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Soul singer Aretha Franklin ‘seriously ill’ and ‘surrounded by family’

Aretha Franklin’s last public performance was in New York in November last year

Soul singer Aretha Franklin is seriously ill and her family has gathered with her, according to a person who is close to the star.

The source, who spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity, did not provide any more details. It has since emerged that she is “surrounded by friends and family”, according to her friend Evrod Cassimy.

Beyonce dedicated her performance on Monday night in the singer’s hometown of Detroit to her, while in the same show, DJ Khaled played Respect. Franklin, who was voted the best singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2013, cancelled a series of planned concerts earlier this year.

In February last year, the Respect singer announced plans to retire following the release of an album in the autumn. She told Rolling Stone: “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now.

“I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.” Roger Friedman, a reporter who is said to know Franklin’s family, had claimed earlier on the Showbiz 411 website the Queen of Soul was “gravely ill” at her home in Detroit.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and last performed in November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, when she appeared to have lost weight.

Her last public performance was in August 2017 in Philadelphia. Throughout her lengthy career, Franklin picked up 18 Grammy awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement.

In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her best-known songs span many decades and include Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, I Knew You Were Waiting For Me and Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.