Stevie Wonder among those visiting ailing Aretha Franklin

By Oralandar Brand-Williams and Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News
Stevie Wonder, who would sing in the pregame show, says how pleased he is to be with Aretha Franklin, right, and to be home in Detroit  on Feb. 2.    Franklin, Aaron Neville and Dr. John would join forces on the national anthem.

Celebrities and local religious leaders are among those visiting Aretha Franklin, who was reported in grave condition this week, according to close friends.

Motown legend Stevie Wonder, according to one source close to the family, and civil rights icon the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Franklin after reports surfaced Monday about her condition. Her ex-husband, actor Glynn Turman, is expected to visit as well, according to the source.

Singer Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, paid homage to the legendary Queen of Soul during their concert Monday night at Ford Field saying, "This show tonight is dedicated to Aretha Franklin," Beyoncé told the 44,000 fans. "We love you and thank you." 

Entertainer  DJ Khaled, who opened for the couple,  played Franklin's iconic tune "Respect" to the crowd at the concert.

Well wishes, prayers and message of hope for Franklin, 76, flooded social media sites Monday as reports of her grave condition grabbed headlines around the globe.

Syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, a close friend of the singer, announced Monday morning that the 18-time Grammy winner has been in hospice care for a week. Two sources close to Franklin independently confirmed to The Detroit News that she was at home, surrounded by family and close friends.

The website on Sunday reported that the singer was in grave condition in Detroit, and that her family was asking the public for prayers and privacy.

Fans are posting music videos of their favorite Franklin songs on social media while wishing her well. Franklin, who despite her fame, has remained a Metro Detroiter.

On Monday, fans of the singer stopped by New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin began singing as a child and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, served as pastor.

Calley Prezzano of Oakland, California, and Russ Harold, of Brooklyn, New York, friends who were in town for the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert, stopped by the church after learning on Twitter about the singer's illness.

"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.

Inside the empty church sat 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. Photos of dignitaries who have visited the church, including Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, former President Barack Obama and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were on display.

On Twitter, celebrities tweeted sentiments to Franklin. Singer Patti LaBelle tweeted Tuesday: "My thoughts, my heart and my prayers are with Aretha Franklin, the greatest singer of all time, and all of her loved ones right now."

Singer Anita Baker, raised in Detroit, tweeted "Queen. My Queen, We Are Singing You A Sunrise. Surrounding You with Love & Light."

Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS said in his tweet: "There will NEVER be another Aretha Franklin. Only those inspired by her as they reach for the impossible."

Former President Bill Clinton tweeted: "Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years. We hope you’ll lift her up by listening and sharing her songs that have meant the most to you."

Earth, Wind & Fire founding member Verdine White also posted his thoughts online about Franklin.

"We met a few times, and on my Instagram page we just put some pictures up of myself and Philip (Bailey) with her. One year at Pine Knob, she came to our show and she was fantastic, it was like John Coltrane coming to our show. It was such an honor."

"Keeping our beautiful Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and her loved ones in prayer. We send blessings love and light!" 

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."

Detroit News Staff Writers Candice Williams and Adam Graham, freelance writer Susan Whitall and the Associated Press contributed to this report.