02:08 PM EDT 04/17/2015
Originally posted 02/18/2012 09:40AM
At Aretha Franklin's New York City concert Friday night, she acknowledged Whitney Houston's passing, calling her "one of the greatest singers that ever stood behind a microphone. She's moved on up just a little bit higher now."
But first, the Queen of Soul shared an exclusive tribute to Houston with PEOPLE, in which she remembers "Nippy" as a child, a troubled celebrity and a superstar.
"It's so stunning and unbelievable," Franklin shared with her Facebook and Twitter followers.
Here, and in this week's issue of PEOPLE, Franklin shares – in her own words – the Whitney she knew.
Originally posted 02/17/2012 11:15AM
Whitney Houston's death on Saturday at age 48 came as a shock to fans around the world, and was particularly devastating to her godmother, Aretha Franklin – who said she heard about the loss through a TV news report.
The Queen of Soul, 69, was enjoying a quiet night watching The Descendants in a hotel room in Charlotte, N.C., when she heard the news.
"Maybe two minutes after I [turned off the movie], it came across the screen," Franklin, 69, told Al Roker on Friday's Today show. "I jumped up off the side of the bed ... I just said, 'Oh my God. That's not good.' "
Originally posted 02/16/2012 04:20PM
Throughout the highs and lows of Whitney Houston's tumultuous life, one person was a constant fan: her godmother, soul great Aretha Franklin.
"We were all aware of her challenges," Franklin, 69, says exclusively in the new issue of PEOPLE. "And I was always rooting for her."
Franklin recalls being thrilled with her goddaughter's triumphant return to the silver screen. "Seeing previews for the new Sparkle movie I thought, boy she looks good, healthy, fresh and has that twinkle in her eyes!"
Originally posted 02/16/2012 01:40PM
Not only is Bobby Brown not banned from attending Whitney Houston's invitation-only funeral on Saturday, he is performing with New Edition a few hours later, it was just announced.
"He is not being banned. That's completely untrue," a family source tells PEOPLE.
Adds a close family friend: "Bobby will be there at the funeral to support his [and Houston's] daughter [Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18]. There was some talk ... some people were angry at him, but that's just grief. He will be there."
Originally posted 02/16/2012 11:50AM
Kevin Costner, the leading man who costarred with Whitney Houston in her greatest movie hit, The Bodyguard, is planning to speak at her funeral this weekend, a family source tells PEOPLE.
In addition, both Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at the service, and Houston's record producer from the very beginning of her career, Clive Davis, will also speak, Whitney's rep confirms.
According to the family source, "Whitney's family is devastated, but they're getting through it."
In addition, says the family source, "Clive has been a complete rock for her family this entire time. He's been with her since the beginning, and he's been everything to them. They're leaning on him for emotional support. He talks to them hourly, and he's a very big part in planning her funeral. Clive has been a constant presence for them. They're thanking God for Clive."
Originally posted 02/01/2012 12:55PM
Soul Train fans and music legends alike mourned the loss of the show's creator, Don Cornelius, on Wednesday.
"It's just so sad, stunning and downright shocking ... a huge and momentous loss to the African-American community and the world at large," the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, said in a statement.
"Don Cornelius single handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood among young adults worldwide and globally with the unforgettable creation of Soul Train."
Originally posted 01/23/2012 01:15PM
The Queen of Soul will retain her solo throne for now.
Aretha Franklin – who announced Jan. 3 that she and her "forever friend" William 'Willie' Wilkerson would wed this summer – released a statement Monday with a change of plans.
"Regretfully, To Our Friends and Supporters: Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly," said Franklin, 69. "There will be no wedding at this time."
Originally posted 01/20/2012 02:45PM
Calling her "the eternally great Etta James," Beyoncé is paying special tribute to the quintessential R&B diva, who died on Friday morning at 73 from complications of leukemia.
"This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time," Beyoncé, who played James in the movie Cadillac Records, posted in a message on her website.
"I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime."
Originally posted 01/03/2012 06:00PM
When PEOPLE interviewed and photographed Aretha Franklin in her hometown of Detroit last spring, she had a ever-present, handsome and gregarious fellow at her side: William "Willie" Wilkerson.
And since the Grammy-winning singers' newest album was titled A Woman Falling Out of Love, it begged a key question.
"Is there currently a man in your life?" this reporter asked the Queen of Soul (while internally panicking about the protocol for addressing royalty about her love life).
Originally posted 01/02/2012 02:10PM
The Queen of Soul will soon have a king.
Aretha Franklin and her "forever friend" William 'Willie' Wilkerson are engaged to be married, her rep tells PEOPLE.
The iconic singer, 69, and Wilkerson are discussing tying the knot on Miami Beach, with an exclusive reception aboard a private yacht.
And for her dress?
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