A new report from Showbiz 411 suggests that the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, is “gravely ill” in her hometown of Detroit.
While he didn’t divulge too many details about the situation, Showbiz 411 founder Roger Friedman wrote on Sunday evening that Franklin, 76, is currently surrounded by family and other loved ones, who have asked for prayers and privacy for the legendary singer. It wasn’t specified in the original report whether Franklin is hospitalized or not, but sources such as BET suggested that she is in “serious condition” at a Detroit hospital.
“She will be so missed as a mother, sister, friend, cousin,” Friedman added.
“But her legacy is larger than life. It’s not just that Rolling Stone called her the number one singer of all time, or that she is the Queen of Soul. Long live the Queen.”
Aretha Franklin has dealt with numerous medical issues for most of the decade, including an alleged pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2010 that she debunked in interviews about a year later. According to the Daily Mail, Franklin denied the reports that she was battling the disease when she canceled a number of shows in 2010 for “undisclosed” medical treatments. She was, however, a former chain smoker who had dealt with alcoholism and weight issues at various points in her life, the U.K. publication added.
In 2017, Franklin played her last few concerts as she prepared to retire from the live scene, appearing at Philadelphia’s Mann Center in August for her final public performance and playing for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York on November 2. Showbiz 411 described the Philadelphia concert as a “miraculous” show, as Aretha was “already fighting exhaustion and dehydration” but was still able to perform.
The Daily Mail noted that Aretha Franklin announced in February 2017 that she still had plans to record new music, but was going to make that year her last as an active performer. Despite her ostensible plans to retire, she was still booked to perform at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April but had to pull out of that gig and her 76th birthday show in March per doctor’s orders, according to Rolling Stone.
While social media users chimed in with prayers and wishes for Franklin’s recovery following the reports of her illness, others wondered if these reports were similar to the ones from November 2017 that falsely claimed she had passed away. Newsweek wrote that the death hoax, which originated from a fake Aretha Franklin Twitter account, was quickly shot down by the singer’s representative, who debunked the rumors in a brief statement.