Warwick and Franklin were both vocal virtuosos and preeminent hitmakers in the Sixties and early Seventies. They moved in overlapping circles, and the two were closely connected with Warwick’s cousin, the star Whitney Houston.
“Our Heavenly Father has chosen one of our most prolific voices to join His Heavenly Choir,” Warwick wrote in a statement. “Aretha now rests in peace!”
Warwick continued, “I [was taught], like I’m sure she was, that we are all put on this earth for a purpose, and once that is fulfilled, we will then be ‘called home.’ She sincerely will be missed throughout the musical world, family and friends.”
Franklin and Warwick were two of the most successful crossover singers of the Sixties, scoring hit after hit on the charts; Franklin ended her career with 73 Hot 100 entries, while Warwick amassed 56. One of Franklin’s hits, 1968’s “Ain’t No Way,” featured backing vocals from Warwick’s aunt Cissy Houston. The same year, Franklin covered “I Say a Little Prayer,” originally a smash for Warwick. The two stars later performed the song together on the show Solid Gold. Franklin also covered “This Girl’s in Love With You,” another Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition that was initially a hit for Warwick.
Both women were close with Whitney Houston. Though the two feuded at times — last year, Franklin accused Warwick of libel for comments made at Houston’s funeral in 2012 — Warwick betrayed no lingering resentment. “My deep heartfelt condolence[s] I send from my family to her family,” Warwick wrote in her statement. “[I] do hope the grief I know they are feeling will begin to subside with time, as losing a family member is a very hard thing to process. Know that her pain is over and she suffers no longer.”