Legendary singer Aretha Franklin has long been considered the “Queen of Soul,” but one media outlet in 2014 was seemingly brave enough to name the vocalist, who’s now allegedly feuding with fellow popular chanteuse Dionne Warwick, the “Queen of Shade.”
As noted on the Inquisitr this past Tuesday, an agitated Franklin, 75, re-engaged a reported rift with the “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” vocalist that stemmed from Dionne referring to Aretha as the godmother of late performer Whitney Houston during the latter singer’s 2012 funeral, which she did not attend.
“[Dionne] blatantly lied on me, fully well-knowing what she was doing,” Aretha remarked of Warwick’s funeral comment to the Associate Press on Tuesday.
“I don’t care about her apology at this point, [to me], it’s about libel,” she went on to say. “[Besides], we’ve never been friends and I don’t think that Dionne has ever liked me.”
Incidentally, Ms. Warwick, a blood cousin of Houston’s, didn’t appear to be mean-spirited or hurtful at all when she reiterated the long-rumored connection of Ms. Franklin’s and Whitney’s during the service. Houston’s actual godmother, as admitted by Whitney’s mother, Cissy, days after the funeral, is Darlene Love.
“Ree loves Whitney as if she were born to her,” Dionne declared during her speech, after first paying regards to an absent Aretha, who missed the “Going Home” ceremony due to supposed leg pain.
“She is,” Ms. Warwick continued, “her godmother.”
Later that evening, a planned performance by Franklin at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall went on as scheduled, as noted by the Daily News in February 2009, (Aretha said she was “contractually obligated” to appear in the AP interview) and incidentally, might mirror how Aretha truly felt about the loss of a contemporary like Whitney; if she even cared at all, that is.
American author David Ritz, who once composed an panned memoir on the life of Franklin with her assistance; 1999’s Aretha: From These Roots, according to Gawker, reunited with the “Respect” diva several years ago to put together a proper, more fulfilling follow-up, aptly titled Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin, at the request of Ms. Franklin herself.
“Franklin hit up Ritz to help her write the follow-up to Roots,” Gawker explains, “and he suggested they go deeper than last time, as many (including Ritz) were disappointed by how tight-lipped Franklin was while telling her own story [in Roots].”
Aretha reportedly, once again, recoiled from the thought of sharing her own history for a book that was supposed to based on it, and instead, wanted more of a telling of her personal accomplishments and accolades as a legendary soul singer. Ritz, meanwhile, refused, and in turn, organized a collective of musicians and Franklin’s family members who would be willing to share their personal recollections of their interactions with Aretha for Respect, and one such tale, ironically, involved Houston.
Music producer Narada Michael Walden, who worked with Whitney throughout her career, shared a memory of the recording sessions of the 1989 duet, “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be,” a collaborative effort by Aretha and Houston for the former’s Through the Storm album.
“Whitney flew to Detroit, all excited about singing with her Auntie Ree,” Walden stated, “but when Auntie Ree walked in the studio, she didn’t enter as Auntie Ree.”
“She entered as Queen Aretha, the original diva.”
Houston humbled herself accordingly, so Walden said, but it didn’t appear to alter Aretha’s frame of mind throughout the session.
“At the same time, Whitney was the biggest music star in the world and didn’t realize that Aretha felt that she had something to prove,” the music maker mentioned.
“Whitney was acting like a furry puppy dog, [but] Aretha was like a boxer staring down her opponent.”
Years later, Aretha would take on another performer with a name similar to that of Dionne’s, French-Canadian import Celine Dion, at the taping of the first-ever VH1 Divas’ Live special in 1998, when an excited Celine stole the show with an impressive note during a group performance of Franklin’s “Natural Woman” that Aretha wasn’t feeling the love for at all.
Even Aretha’s sisters, singers Carolyn and Erma Franklin, have supposedly fallen victim to the singer’s need to shine brighter than anyone, as the Gawker piece goes on to claim (a summary of other interactions noted in Respect can be viewed in the Twitter thread below by clicking on the embedded time stamp).
“Carolyn was originally approached by Curtis Mayfield to record the soundtrack album of the 1976 film Sparkle,” the site writes, “but Aretha used her clout to snatch the opportunity from her less-famous sibling. [Also], Erma was in talks for her first record deal, which was to be on Epic — the sister label of Columbia, to which Aretha was signed at the time — [but] Aretha had a big problem with it.”
“I thought she would be thrilled [for me],” Erma recalled to Ritz for Respect.
“She wasn’t. She threw a fit. She told [our] daddy that she didn’t want me on Epic, that it would hurt her career and that people would be confused by too many singing Franklin sisters.”
As most might expect, Aretha Franklin ultimately went on to denounce all of the claims of feuds that were addressed in Ritz’ previously-authorized project as “trash,” as Billboard transcribed.
[Featured Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]