Aretha Thought Whitney Had 'Conquered' Challenges

by 7:40 AM PST, February 17, 2012
Photo: The Today Show

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin says she was so shocked by the death of Whitney Houston that she jumped out of bed when she heard the news.

Franklin spoke to the Today Show's Al Roker on Friday about her reaction to the news, which she heard on television while in a hotel room in Charlotte, NC. "I just jumped up off the side of the bed... and thought what, this could not be, what is this? I just said 'Oh, my God, that's not good.'"

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Franklin is set to perform along with Stevie Wonder and others at Houston's funeral Saturday in New Jersey, but said she's not yet sure what she'll sing. She said news of her goddaughter's death was particularly shocking because recently she thought the superstar was looking "fresh, healthy and gorgeous." She added: "And I thought, 'Yes, she has conquered her challenges and was on the way.'"

The singer said although Houston had embarked on her career with all the right things, "she just kind of lost her way along the way somewhere." But Franklin said people shouldn't be too quick to judge Houston for her "challenges" in life. "You cannot define a person on just one thing. You can't just forget all these wonderful and good things that a person has done because one thing didn't come off the way you thought it should come off."

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Franklin said the thing she'll remember most about Houston is the way her whole face would light up when she smiled. "She had this little twinkle in her eye. She didn't just smile with her lips." She noted that the last song Houston sang was Yes, Jesus Loves Me. "When God loves you, what can be better than that?" 

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Franklin also shared with Roker a familiar nursery rhyme that she changed in memory of Houston: "Twinkle, twinkle, superstar / We don't wonder where you are. Up above the world so bright / Like a diamond in the night. Twinkle, twinkle, she stood alone / I can't believe that she's gone."

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