“At this point, it isn’t about an apology, it’s about libel,” said Franklin, who had great success with some songs originally associated with Warwick, notably “I Say a Little Prayer.” “We’ve never been friends,” Franklin added, “and I don’t think that Dionne has ever liked me.”
The incident that offended Franklin took place five years ago at Whitney Houston’s funeral. At the time, Warwick reportedly told the crowd that Franklin was at the event before determining that she was absent. “Ree’s [Franklin’s nickname] not here, but she is here,” Warwick assured the mourners. “She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother.”
In fact, Franklin was not Houston’s godmother – that honor belonged to Darlene Love of “He’s a Rebel” fame – and she was home with swollen feet before a performance at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. Though Franklin claims she was hurt by Warwick’s words at the time, she said she avoided making an issue of the misinformation out of respect for Houston. “There [had] been so much going on around [Houston], around the service, around the drugs, around her and Bobby [Brown] supposed to be fighting, I didn’t want to add anything to that, and I didn’t want to be a part of that,” Franklin told the AP.
But the wound re-opened last week when Franklin encountered Warwick at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of the documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Warwick attempted to speak with Franklin, but was rebuffed. “She said, ‘Give me a hug,'” Franklin recalled. “I said, ‘Oh, hell no. You can’t be serious.'” The legendary soul singer subsequently sent the AP “a lengthy fax” outlining her position.
Replying to Franklin’s accusations, Warwick’s representative Angelo Ellerbee declared that “[Warwick] will not dignify a response to the statement made by Aretha Franklin.”
Franklin recently said that she will minimize performances and potentially retire from recording after releasing an album this fall.