Belfast Telegraph

Aretha Franklin: Houston was wonderful

(Cover) - -No story type selected- - Aretha Franklin nearly "jumped up off the side of the bed" when she heard the news of Whitney Houston's death.

The 69-year-old iconic soul singer was in her hotel room in North Carolina when she learned of the tragedy.

Aretha couldn't believe that demise caught up with her goddaughter Whitney.

"I just jumped up off the side of the bed... and thought what, this could not be, what is this?" Aretha told US TV programme the Today Show in an interview with Al Roker on Friday. "I just said 'Oh, my God, that's not good.' "

Aretha was particularly taken aback by Whitney's death because she thought the singer, who was plagued by drug abuse, returned to vigour.

"[She looked] fresh, healthy and gorgeous," Aretha remarked. "And I thought, 'Yes, she has conquered her challenges and was on the way.' "

Aretha loves Whitney and doesn't want the I Will Always Love You singer's memory to be clouded by substance abuse.

"She just kind of lost her way along the way somewhere," Aretha explained. "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."

Whitney's memorial service will take place this Saturday at noon.

Around 1,500 people have been invited - with Kevin Costner, Stevie Wonder, producer Clive Davis and Aretha all set to take part in the service.

It has been reported that Whitney's private funeral will be broadcast live on television and the internet so fans can also watch the service.

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From Belfast Telegraph