Aretha Franklin has accused fellow music icon Dionne Warwick of libel relating to remarks made at Whitney Houston’s funeral in 2012.
Health issues prompted the Queen of Soul to cancel a performance at Whitney’s memorial in New Jersey in February, 2012, but Dionne was apparently not made aware of the change of plans and introduced Aretha to those gathered to mourn her cousin’s passing.
Upon realising her mistake, Dionne told the crowd, “‘Ree (Aretha) is not here, but she is here (in spirit). She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother.”
Aretha was left fuming as she was not Whitney’s godmother, but she declined to comment on the false claim at the time in a bid to avoid adding to the drama surrounding the I Will Always Love You hitmaker’s tragic death.
Now it appears the Respect legend is finally ready to address the five-year-old remarks, after snubbing Dionne backstage at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, the documentary about Aretha’s music mentor, last week (ends21Apr17).
“She (Dionne) said, ‘Give me a hug,'” Aretha recalled to The Associated Press. “I said, ‘Oh hell no. You couldn’t be serious.'”
The superstar believes Dionne, 76, purposefully made up the godmother tale to make Aretha look bad for skipping Whitney’s funeral, and she is not ready to forgive her anytime soon.
Asked if she wants an apology, Aretha declared, “I don’t care about her apology; at this point it isn’t about an apology, it’s about libel…”
“She blatantly lied on me… fully well knowing what she was doing…,” the angry singer, 75, added. “We’ve never been friends and I don’t think that Dionne has ever liked me.”
Dionne has since declined to reply to Aretha’s accusation or engage her in a war of words.
“She will not dignify a response to the statement made by Aretha Franklin,” reads a message issued by her representative, Angelo Ellerbee.
Aretha had to scrap her funeral performance in 2012 at late notice in order to rest her swollen feet so she could honour her concert commitment at the Big Apple’s Radio City Music Hall that night.
Whitney’s mother, gospel veteran Cissy Houston, subsequently made it clear Darlene Love was actually her daughter’s godmother.