Exclusive: Aretha Franklin on her new body, new music


DETROIT – The Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin, was welcomed by thousands of adoring fans for her first show back at home this year. She wore a red off-the-shoulder gown proud to show off that she's maintaining her health ever since last summer, when she was forced to cancel shows for medical reasons.

"I have diabetes, really, from years ago when I was really badly and grossly overweight. Now, I'm back to my natural size and thrilled about it," Franklin said. "The weight that I am at now, I said, 'I am going to own this weight. I will never, ever, be the size that I was again.'"

And she's maintaining her new size the best way she can, by changing her diet -- which is a lot easier said than done.

"The portion control they have set up for you works wonderfully for me. It helps me to control my weight," she said. "It's something that you really, really have to want first of all. Food can be powerful. We've got some real good food out here. You can either control it or it's going to control you."

In additional to portion control, she exercises frequently, up to four times a week. Keep your eyes open, she prefers to work out in public.

"I have a little walking regimen that I do in all of the super stores, Walmart, Kmart and Meijers and so on. I walk the whole store, sometimes twice. It depends on how much I need to walk that day. If I need to really walk, I might walk it twice," Franklin said.

When asked if she's ever recognized by fans in the stores, she said, "Sometimes people don't even notice that I'm there. Other times, they'll do a double take. Sometimes they'll come over and ask for an autograph."

When she's not exercising, she's working on her new album. She's headed back into the studio this weekend with music legend Babyface and Andre 3000 of Outkast.

"We're doing classics. Soul classics and pop classics. Doing the 'Midnight Train,' doing 'What's Love Got To Do With It,' doing 'Rolling In The Deep,' by Adele," Franklin said.

The new album is due out in September.

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