Last year, the world lost a giant in the music industry. Aretha Franklin passed away in the middle of August after a lengthy battle with cancer. Following her death, she was given a funeral worthy of her status in the industry, with dignitaries from all over traveling to pay their last respects.
A short time later, it was announced that a concert documentary from 1972 would be released, titled Amazing Grace. On Friday, talk show host Wendy Williams spoke about the documentary, criticizing both the quality and its scheduled release after her death, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Among other things, Williams called the film a "one-camera shot" despite there being multiple cameras used for the filming, and criticized Franklin's personal look as an all-natural African American woman. Williams also suggested that the family had a single motivation for allowing the film to be released now, given that Franklin had refused to allow it during her lifetime: Money.
Understandably, Franklin's family are none to happy about Williams' comments, and hit back at her on Sunday night, calling the comments "irresponsible" and "mocking."
"1972 was the era of Black Power and Black Is Beautiful," the estate said in a statement. "In her short natural hair and simple makeup, Ms. Franklin was in step with the times and appropriate to the occasion. There was no 'showgirl glamor,' no 'pressed hair' and no 'eyelashes' – the lack of which Williams ridiculed on her program. The simplicity of the presentation gives Amazing Grace its power."Franklin was unapologetically black, and rightly so. She felt comfortable in her own skin, and didn't feel the need to do herself up in a way that many other people do these days in an effort to fit in to what society might deem "better."
Williams suggested that the reason behind its sudden release is that the estate has gone broke, also blaming Franklin's family for poorly managing her not only in death, but throughout her life as well.
Franklin famously explained just three years prior to her death that while she loved the film, she "had not licensed use of her likeness" for it, and even went to court twice to prevent it from being released. It would appear as if Williams feels that Franklin's family are now trying to capitalize on her death by releasing something the singer herself didn't want.
But Franklin's estate says this is not the case at all.
"While Franklin had initially imposed an injunction on 'Amazing Grace,' her objections had nothing to do with its quality; negotiations were incomplete at the time of her death," their statement read.