Aretha Franklin (76) is said to be “gravely ill” according to family members, who are asking for “prayers and privacy” through this difficult time. KTVB and other sources broke the news on August 13. Veteran entertainment reporter Roger Friedman cited the sad breaking story on Showbiz 411, and WDIV-TV Channel 4 anchor Evrod Cassimy confirmed the news in a moving message on Twitter. Cassimy called Aretha Franklin “my good friend,” and assured that he had spoken to family members. Aretha Franklin was family to the entire city of Detroit, where she made her home, and now, throngs of Detroit residents surround the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (along with 17 more) with prayer, hope, and love.

A difficult year

Health Issues became more pronounced for Aretha Franklin last year. The singer announced her plans to retire early last year. Two major shows had to be canceled in March -- one at the New Orleans Jazz Festival and one at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The New Jersey show was to be in celebration of Franklin’s 76th birthday. She performed live in November of 2017 at Elton John's annual AIDS benefit gala.

Aretha Franklin has always been vigilant about keeping her private life extremely private, and in 2011, she dismissed the swirling health rumors regarding an 85-pound weight loss, denying that bariatric surgery was part of the equation. She insisted that “it wasn't that” to Anthony Mason of CBS.

She described her health as “wonderful” and her love life as “okay” during the interview.

Quite the lady

Rev. C.L. Franklin had to push his daughter to share her unforgettable voice with his congregation at New Bethel Baptist Church, but her passionate pitch was the perfect punctuation for her father's powerful sermons. The shy girl would come to be called the "Lady Soul," moving from the choir to big stages with a string of hits.

She preferred looking down from the stairs on the musical luminaries of the day, dropping by her family’s West Detroit home. She had a crush on Sam Cooke, and Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward were visitors, too. Temptations singer Dennis Edwards is purported to be the subject of the hit she penned, “Daydreaming,” but of course, she neither confirmed nor denied the details.

Perhaps the most stunning performance of her stupendous career was at the 1998 Grammy ceremony when she was called upon with little preparation to sing for opera great Luciano Pavarotti. Of course, everyone knew that Aretha Franklin would deliver a fine performance, but what no one expected was her flawless rendition of “Nessun Dorma,” which she made her own -- and a frequent part of her set list.

Aretha Franklin made one of her last TV appearances on “The Talk” in 2015, and she gushed with love and pride for her sons, Kecalf Cunningham, a Christian hip-hop artist, and Jordan, who is a rising songwriter. The grandmother was not shy about saying that she was mentoring her granddaughter Victory, either.

Rolling Stone named Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of the rock era, and that esteemed recognition was well-earned. At this moment, however, Aretha Franklin's family, friends, and fans can only hope for the best as the story develops.

EDITOR, PLEASE NOTE: I am also a source in this piece, because I have written features on Aretha Franklin since 2009, and have considereable background and knowledge. Thank you for your review!