Back in 1972, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, shot a concert documentary, Amazing Grace, featuring her performances of gospel classics. After decades of legal wrangling over its rights, the film is finally seeing the light of day and receiving a limited release in NYC and LA to qualify for Oscar nominations before going out nationally next year.

“Aretha always wanted to be a movie star, and we feel this is her chance to be a movie star,” producer Alan Elliott said in a previous interview with Variety. For Aretha’s loved ones, the film brings back cherished memories.

Aretha Franklin
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“When all of her siblings passed away [by 2002], she stepped in and became our surrogate mother, our rock and our foundation,” Aretha’s nephew Vaughn Franklin told Variety. “She helped us mourn and get over our grief, so whenever I can see her now, it feels like she’s reaching out to me. It’s definitely helping us as a family to heal and move on.”

When Aretha passed away at age 76 on Thursday, Aug. 16 from cancer, her family used the star’s longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, to issue a statement to the public. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds,” it read.

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Shortly after Aretha was laid to rest, her close family members also exclusively spoke to Closer Weekly about the late singer. “She was a woman of faith. She grew up in the church, started out singing gospel, and she had a personal relationship with God,” Aretha’s nephew Tim Franklin said. “She was a giver, never asked for anything, never took anything.” Aretha will be dearly missed.

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