Stevie Wonder remembered his longtime friend Aretha Franklin in an interview with CBS This Morning Friday, a day after the legendary singer’s death at the age of 76. Wonder visited Franklin’s Detroit home Tuesday following reports that the Queen of Soul was “gravely ill.”
“She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me, and so I just said all the things that I’ve always said and told her to say hello to my sister – that I lost this year as well,” Wonder said.
“She did incredible music, incredible singer. She touched every genre. Every singer was influenced in some way by the way she sang, and they will forever be influenced by her because of her voice, her emotion, her sincerity is unforgettable.”
In recent years, Franklin spoke in interviews about recording a final album with assistance from Wonder. “We’d been talking about doing some music. There was a song that I had written called ‘The Future,’ and we were going to write and sing it together. And so…,” Wonder told CBS This Morning before becoming overcome with emotion, “I thought I cried my last tear.”
Wonder also praised Franklin’s talent and character. “She was just consistently a great human being, and she always – even with whatever turmoil may have been happening in her life, even through her illness – she did not put that on anybody else,” Wonder said of Franklin.
“She believed, I think that most of all she was doing God’s work, and she was. She brought joy to others’ lives, and she will – her voice and the essence of her will long [outlive] all of us that are here right now.”
Wonder also spoke about Franklin’s trademark renditions of Otis Redding’s “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” and Wonder’s own “Until You Come Back to Me.” “When she sings your song, she takes it, and you don’t get it back. And that’s what she did,” Wonder added.
Wonder then attempted to perform a song in tribute to Franklin but stopped after a single lyric, “I love you Aretha, and that’s a forever thing.” “I’m too emotional to think about any singing right now,” Wonder said.