Aretha Franklin is gravely ill, family says

'The Queen of Soul' is asking for prayers

By Evrod Cassimy - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - Aretha Franklin, "The Queen of Soul," is gravely ill, her family told Local 4 on Monday. 

Update: Aretha Franklin: 'Resting and surrounded by family and friends'

Franklin, 76, was born in Memphis, Tenn. in 1942, the daughter of the famous pastor and civil rights activist C. L. Franklin. When Aretha was just 2 the family left Memphis for New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and a Motor City legend was ready to be born.

Related: Tributes, prayers pour in for 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin

Franklin has the third-most Grammy Awards for any female artist in history. 

In an interview last year, Franklin said she had plans to "retire" after the release of her new album.

"I must tell you, I am retiring this year," Franklin said.

Franklin said she was "exuberant" about her new album and "can't wait to get in the studio." The album was released in September, with a tour that included only select dates. She wouldn't have more than one date planned per month, and the full tour was to last "maybe for six months," she said at the time.

Franklin spent 56 years as a legendary singer and songwriter.

"This will be my last year," Franklin said. "I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it."

She was not retiring completely. She said she would do "some select things, many one a month, for six months out of the year." But she said her grandchildren are leaving for college and she wants to spend time with them.

MORE: Quick facts about Aretha Franklin, 'The Queen of Soul'

Franklin said the announcement is bittersweet because "it's what I've done all of my life."

"I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now," Franklin said. "I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn't be good either."

Franklin said since she's been extremely active throughout her career, it wouldn't be good for her to just sit down and do nothing, so that's why "she's keeping the one or two concerts in every month or so."

She also talked about what to expect in the new album.

"Of course, several of the songs are going to be produced by Stevie (Wonder), and of course there's only one Stevie, right?" Franklin said.

She said she couldn't wait for the new CD, which goes in several different directions.

"It's kind of multi-(directional)," she said. "We're not pigeonholed to any one thing."

Franklin said was recording exclusively in Detroit.

"I keep my business in Detroit, or as close to Detroit as possible," Franklin said.

Here is her performance in Detroit on Sept. 5, 2011: 

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