'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin in grave condition
Well wishes and prayers continue to flood social media Monday as reports of the grave condition of Aretha Franklin make headlines around the world.
Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, a close friend of Franklin's, announced Monday morning the 18-time Grammy winner has been in hospice care for a week. Two sources close to the singer independently confirmed to The Detroit News she is at home.
The website Showbiz411.com on Sunday reported the singer was in grave condition in Detroit, and that her family was asking the public for prayers and privacy.
On Monday, fans posted music videos of their favorite Franklin tunes on social media while wishing her well and offering prayers to the prolific singer, songwriter and musician who, despite her fame, remained a Metro Detroiter.
At New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin began singing as a child and her father was the pastor, fans of the singer sometimes wandered through Monday.
Calley Prezzano of Oakland, Calif., and Russ Harold, of Brooklyn, N.Y., friends who were in town for the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert Monday, stopped by the church after learning about the singer;s illness on Twitter.
"I love the music," said Prezzano. "My mom grew up on it."
Harold echoed the sentiment.
"She's one of the greatest, if not the greatest, vocalists of my life," he said.
The empty church looked much like it does most weeks, with a piano and drum set near the pulpit.
The real goods were in a back room, called the History Room, which has photos of Franklin and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. Photos showed various dignitaries, who have visiting the church, including former mayor Coleman Young, former president Barack Obama and Martin Luther King.
On Twitter, celebrities such as singer Mariah Carey posted messages such as "Praying for the Queen of Soul."
The Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted a picture of himself with Franklin along with the message: "Pray for the Queen, Aretha Franklin, a true warrior and my dear friend."
Locally, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, said for those who believe in prayer, Franklin's health struggle isn't over until God says it's over.
"(Aretha) is down, but she is not out," Anthony said. "She requires and needs our prayers, our best thoughts and our best wishes...
"The bible says that the prayer of the righteous can availeth much. So right now we encourage everyone that loves Aretha to say a little prayer for her."
Mayor Mike Duggan recalled her frail condition when giving her the key to the city during the inaugural Detroit Music Weekend in June 2017. "She is so much a part of this city, and our thoughts and prayers are with her and the family today,” he said.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Craig Strong, a longtime friend of Franklin's, said Monday "we are all praying for her."
Strong became friends with Franklin after meeting her father, the late Rev. C.L. Franklin, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church on the city's west side, when he was campaigning for the bench in the late 1970s.
"I just admired the man so much," Craig said. "He was just a great man."
Strong attended many of her concerts and was a guest at her invite-only parties.
"I've just been privileged that she would consider me a friend and have me at her events and parties," Strong said. "She would go out of her way to make (friends) happy."
Local music producer and musician Brian Pastoria reflected on recording Franklin.
“Anybody female that can sing is going to look at Aretha as the queen,” Brian Pastoria said. “It’s one thing to be a great singer, but one thing that she got from Sam Cook and (music producer) Jerry Wexler: singing is great, but it’s all about the song. I think she had a real ear for the song… the key to a great singer is the song.”
“She’s still here,” he added, “but when the time comes we need to pay tribute to her legacy.”
Detroit News columnist Bankole Thompson dedicated his Monday radio show "Redline" on 910 AM Superstation to Franklin as a tribute to the iconic singer. Thompson played Franklin's songs as he received calls from fans who reminisced about Franklin.
In recent months, Franklin canceled appearances due to doctor's orders at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April and a performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on March 25, her 76th birthday.
In February 2017, Franklin announced she was retiring from touring and would be spending time with her family and working on a few projects. A few months later, Franklin performed at the Detroit Music Weekend, where she gave a moving, celebratory concert while appearing frail in health. She ended by telling the crowd, “God bless you, God keep you. Keep me in your prayers.”
Her final performance was in November at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York City, where she closed the event singing songs such as “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway of Love.” John lauded her “the greatest singer of all time."
In June, The Detroit News honored Franklin with the first Michiganian of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for the numerous ways she has given back to the Detroit community. She was a 2003 Michiganian of the Year.
Detroit News Staff Writers Candice Williams and Melody Baetens contributed.