DETROIT – It's a very difficult time for people all around the world after hearing that Aretha Franklin is gravely ill. The same goes for those who worked for her and knew she was sick on and off again over the past few years.
"It hasn't hit me yet,” said Clarence Waldron, Franklin's former publicist. “I have been pushing myself, denying myself of the chance to grieve. It's very sad and I know it's inevitable and it'll hit me later on, but it's very difficult to hear that."
Waldron is speaking about the Queen of Soul and her health as she rests under hospice care. He just learned about her gravely ill condition.
"The story came out about a week ago, and that's when I realized she was very very, ill," he said.
Waldron represented Franklin from about 2014 to 2016. During that time she performed for Pope Francis' inauguration, at Detroit's Chene Park and a number of other major events. During his tenure with her, she had to cancel some shows for health reasons.
"So of course there are concerts canceled based on doctor’s orders,” he said. “So they wanted to know about that. We would simply say we are not doing any interviews at this time. She's going to be home resting, and that is all. There's no more to say than that."
"Did you ever inquire about what her sickness was?" asked Local 4’s Evrod Cassimy. “Did you personally know?”
“Nope! Nope! Nope! I never inquired. I never inquired at all,” said Waldron. “I felt that she -- she's a grown woman. She'll say what she wants me to know and what she wants the world to know."
But at her last Christmas party in December 2017, gave cause for concern. Waldron, who is based out of Chicago, traveled to Detroit to attend, only to find out the Queen of Soul would not attend because she was sick.
"Someone, I don't know who it was, made an announcement that Ms. Franklin was not going to be able to join us that night, and of course we all were shocked and saddened because I wanted to see her. I really wanted to see her, but they made the announcement that she is not feeling well and it surprised me. It spoke volumes. Oh, my gosh, she really is sick. She really is sick. She's unable to be here. It hurt me. I was really sad."
Waldron has maintained his friendship with Franklin after working as her publicist. Like so many people around the world, he continues to pray for her and hope she recovers.