Singer Aretha Franklin is reportedly lashing out at popular music history falsehood that was touched on by Dionne Warwick, in passing, nearly five years ago.
The 75-year-old “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” superstar publicly took the similarly-famous “Say A Little Prayer For You” performer, 76, to task during an Associated Press chat on Tuesday that stemmed from the 2012 funeral of late pop star Whitney Houston, which Aretha and Dionne were both scheduled to appear at.
Dionne, Houston’s cousin by way of Whitney’s mother, Cissy, took to the podium at the front of Newark’s New Baptist Church on that February day to, in part, introduce Franklin as a special guest performer to honor Houston’s life in song.
Franklin, however, was not able attend the service due to health issues; which Warwick respectively made the crowd aware of, while still giving the “Queen of Soul” a proper shout-out.
“‘Ree’s not here,’” Dionne mentioned, using Aretha’s nickname, “but, she is here [in spirit]. She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother.”
Except, according to Franklin, she isn’t.
“[Dionne] blatantly lied on me,” Aretha responded to the AP about the seemingly-sweet gesture on Tuesday, “fully well-knowing what she was doing.”
Franklin says that she has held onto her grievance with Dionne since she first heard the singer refer to Whitney’s godmother through the live telecast of the late “I Will Always Love You” icon’s “Going Home” ceremony on February 23, 2012.
“At the time, Franklin said she was suffering from swollen feet,” the AP post explains of her absence, “and had to skip the funeral so she could perform later that night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, which she said she was contractually obligated to do.”
“There [had] been so much going on around [Cissy regarding] the service,” Ms. Franklin eventually expressed of why she allowed the issue with Dionne for simmer so long without speaking on it.
“[With] the [Whitney] drug [rumors], around her and Bobby [Brown, who she was] supposed to be fighting [with]. I didn’t want to add anything to that and I didn’t want to be a part of that,” she said.
Incidentally, Whitney’s mom would go on to correct the media days after the service by admitting that Darlene Love, another iconic African-American performer, was her daughter’s true godparent; but admittedly, up to this point, many have often confused the actual attachment between Aretha and Whitney, which began when Houston was just a child in the 1970s.
At that time, Whitney’s mother, Cissy, a gospel singer who had not come into her Grammy-recognized own as of yet, worked as a session singer behind several prominent music artists of the era, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin, the latter of whom, she connected with both professionally and personally.
“Aretha Franklin, a powerhouse in the genres of gospel and R&B was a mentor,” The Singer’s Room writes,”[was named an] honorary aunt and godmother [of Houston by Cissy],” thereby seemingly making Franklin’s “title,” pretty much moot from the start, as well as easily demystified by anyone with internet access.
Nonetheless, an interaction between Aretha and Dionne just last week at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival was, by Franklin’s own recollection, was anything but “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”-able from her side of the proverbial table and proved that she was still pretty streamed at Warwick.
“She said, ‘Give me a hug,” Ms. Franklin admitted, “[and] I said, ‘Oh hell no. You couldn’t be serious.”
Ironically, both women were in attendance at the annual film festival to view and celebrate a documentary based on the life of Clive Davis, the legendary hit maker who, at different points in time, helped Aretha, Dionne, and Whitney to reach new and in some cases, unparalleled heights of fame.
“I don’t care about her apology,” Ms. Franklin stated, “at this point, it’s about libel. [Besides], we’ve never been friends and I don’t think that Dionne has ever liked me.”
A representative for Dionne Warwick retaliated that his client, “will not dignify a response to [any statements] made by Aretha Franklin.”
[Featured Image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images & Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]