Aretha Franklin ‘gravely ill’, family appeals for prayers and privacy

The 76-year-old soul legend – who last performed at the Elton John AIDS Foundation party in New York in November – is said to be at her home in Detroit, where her loved ones have gathered to say their goodbyes.

According to Showbiz 411, her family have appealed for “prayers and privacy” for the ‘Say A Little Prayer’ hitmaker.

Aretha’s final public performance was at the Mann Center in Philadelphia in August 2017, where she reportedly battled through “exhaustion and dehydration” to “miraculously” complete the show.

The ‘Respect’ singer cancelled a number of concerts last year, and admitted in February 2017 that her touring days were coming to an end.

She said at the time: “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it.”

But later that year, she revealed plans to buy a nightclub near her home and do occasional shows there.

She said last August: “I’m interested in doing a small nightclub downtown, and [estate agent Bruce Schwartz] and I have been talking about this for a couple of years now and I’m just letting him know I’m still interested.

“In my retirement plan, I’d like to have a small club here in Detroit.

“It would be [called] Aretha’s!

“From time to time I would sing, and of course, I would have special artists come in to perform for the city that people in Detroit like – Detroit favourites.”

Aretha – whose three siblings all died of cancer – has battled ill health over the last few years and in 2011, denied she was suffering from pancreatic cancer, though she later admitted she’d had a tumour removed.

Last November, she was the subject of a death hoax online but insisted she was “doing well” when she spoke up to deny the reports.

She said: “I’m doing well generally, all test have come back good.”