(Update 8/14) — Reports from CNN reveal Aretha Franklin is in hospice care at her home in Detroit and surrounded by her family as she continues to battle an undisclosed illness. Aretha's nephew, Tim Franklin, spoke with People and described his aunt as “alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people." Although Tim confirmed her health problems, he also said the family is hopeful and “trying to keep her spirits up and go from there. We believe she’ll pull through it, she believes she’ll pull through it, and that’s the important thing."
(Original Article 8/13) — Aretha Franklin, the beloved 76-year-old Queen of Soul, is “gravely ill” and currently surrounded by her family in a Detroit hospital, according to one of her close friends. Evrod Cassimy, an anchor for a local news program in Detroit, shared a message through Twitter on August 13 saying he "spoke with [Franklin’s] family members this morning. She is asking for your prayers at this time.”
Though the exact cause of her illness has not been released, Franklin was diagnosed with cancer back in 2010. She has significantly slowed down her public appearances in recent years, with her last performance taking place in November 2017 during a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The New York Times described her performance that night, which didn’t begin until 11 p.m., saying, “although she seemed a little fragile, she prevailed, singing in sweet, straining and soulful tones about troubled waters, prayer and hope.” Franklin had previously admitted her plans to retire by the end of 2017. "I'm cleaning house," she said in an interview with Cassimy in February 2017. "I'm going to be moving back into Detroit, and I'm just getting things ready for that. My granddaughter just went to college, so I'm spending time with my grandchildren, and I'm also readying the new CD." Franklin's 42nd studio album, A Brand New Me, was released in November 2017.
The beloved diva began her career at just 14 as a gospel singer. Franklin went on to sign a deal with Columbia Records just a few years after that, releasing her first secular album, Aretha: With the Ray Bryant Combo, in 1961. In the years since her debut, Franklin earned her title as Queen of Soul by becoming the most-charted female performer in Billboard history with classic hits like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” and “I Say a Little Prayer.” Franklin was also the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has 18 Grammy awards under her belt. Franklin also made occasional acting appearances, most notably as a singing waitress in the 1980 comedy classic The Blues Brothers.
Neither Franklin's family or official representatives have released any further details about the icon's condition. This is a developing story; we will continue to update as we receive more news.