Metro Detroit music producers look back on time spent with Aretha Franklin

DETROIT – Few Metro Detroit residents are lucky enough to say they made music with Aretha Franklin.

The Pastoria brothers have that honor, but they said calling the Queen of Soul a friend is worth more.

Mark and Brian Pastoria are longtime music producers who worked with Franklin for years, and along the way, the three became close friends.

The brothers worked on a version of "Amazing Grace" in 2004 as a tribute for Whitney Houston's father, who died in 2003.

"It was just the most amazing performance of 'Amazing Grace,'" Mark Pastoria said.

Years later, the brothers still get goosebumps hearing the track.

"So many times we would sit in the studio and we would be playing tracks back," Brian Pastoria said. "The Queen of Soul she had a special gift about her."

"We were so blessed to get to know her and work with her," Mark Pastoria said. "She was a great spirit." 

The brothers earned a Grammy Award with Franklin for the work the did together on a tribute album. It's a memory they said they will always cherish, but not as much as the time spent being friends with the music icon. 

The brothers said Franklin would serve the recording studio's crew homemade dinners, making them her favorite recipes. They said Franklin made an effort to make sure anyone who came to her house to feel at home.

"She was larger than life," Mark Pastoria said.

"She's just been the Queen of Soul," Brian Pastoria said. "Her legacy lives forever."