The world just won’t be the same without Aretha Franklin. In the new issue of Closer Weekly, the music icon’s family and close friends exclusively opened up about Aretha’s life and legacy following her death at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.
On the day of Aretha’s Aug. 16 death, songwriter Diane Warren — who penned several duets for her including “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be,” which she sang with Whitney Houston — told Closer, “Aretha could sing anything and make it her own. She was the Soul of Goddess and the Soul of Queen. She earned that title. She will always be a legend.”
Long before her showbiz success, Aretha taught herself to play piano and started belting out solos in the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit as a young girl. “She was a woman of faith. She grew up in the church, started out singing gospel, and she had a personal relationship with God,” her nephew Tim Franklin told Closer in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now.
Though Aretha rarely spoke publicly about her home life, her nephew Tim revealed that it was her family that sustained her. “When she’d come to Dallas to perform, she would see me,” he recalled, adding that she’d arrive with her bus and entourage. “We’d sit across the table and chat. She said, ‘Tim, this is what it’s all about. It’s all about family, baby. Nothing else matters.’ She was a giver, never asked for anything, never took anything.”
“Her proudest accomplishment was being able to step in when all of our parents had passed away and become the true matriarch of the family. She wouldn’t let us mourn, she kept everything upbeat,” Tim told Closer.
In the past year before her death, Aretha all but retired from the public eye. “I will be spending more time with my grandchildren and my family,” she told Closer in 2017. Weeks before she died, Aretha told her nephew, “Tim, I’m not giving up. God has control over this situation. And she said, ‘When He’s ready, I’m ready.’ She did what she preached to us, fight a good fight,” he revealed.
“Her legacy is her music and her voice,” Aretha’s friend A. Curtis Farrow told Closer. “She was one of the only artists that I’ve ever seen be able to go from pop, rock, R&B, and soul, and go back and do one of the top-selling gospel albums of all time. She was so accepted in every genre it didn’t matter.”
“One can only hope to make a difference in life, and she did. There was nothing she wouldn’t do,” Tim shared.
For more on Aretha Franklin, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and sign up for our newsletter!