"I'm not giving up on her yet," Aretha Franklin's longtime bass player tells PEOPLE

By Ellen Piligian Karen Mizoguchi
August 15, 2018 04:00 PM

Aretha Franklin is “seriously ill” and in declining health but she is doing her best to push through, according to her longtime band member.

Ralphe Armstrong, who was her bass player for 30 years, tells PEOPLE that the 76-year-old music icon remains at her Detroit home surrounded by loved ones.

“She’s in bad shape but she’s a fighter,” Armstrong, 62, says. “She doesn’t talk about her illness, she’s a strong person of faith. She gets a little depressed but she’s a person of faith.”

PEOPLE reported on Monday that Franklin was in the midst of a health crisis, with a friend of the artist explaining that the singer has “been ill for a long time” and her loved ones have been warned her “death is imminent.”

RELATED: Aretha Franklin’s Hometown Church Holds Vigil for the Soul Icon Amid Health Battle

Aretha Franklin
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Armstrong, who dropped flowers off at Franklin’s home on Friday, says he touched base with her family on Tuesday.

“She was hanging in there, up talking and reading the paper a couple weeks ago,” he recalls. “She’s had a downturn just Saturday. Last week she was cussing people out.”

Armstrong adds, “It’s day by day with her. She had a good day yesterday. She’s been doing a lot of sleeping. I’m not giving up on her yet. It’s in God’s hands.”

Ralphe Armstrong
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WATCH: Beyoncé and JAY-Z Dedicate Their Concert to Aretha Franklin: ‘We Love You’

Franklin’s longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told PEOPLE on Tuesday that the gospel legend is thankful for the outpouring of support amid her health battle.

“Aretha Franklin has been the matriarch of the Franklin family since the passing of all of her siblings,” Quinn said. “The love she has for her family is above reproach and was evident in the warm smiles she was able to share with her nephew during his very brief visit two weeks ago.”

RELATED: ‘Seriously Ill’ Aretha Franklin Is ‘Surrounded by Family Members,’ Says Rep

“She is seriously ill and surrounded by family members who appreciate the outpouring of love and support they have received,” continued Quinn, who confirmed that Stevie Wonder, Reverend Jesse Jackson and her ex-husband Glynn Turman have visited Franklin at her home.

Franklin’s nephew Tim also told PEOPLE that his aunt was “alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people.” He said that while Franklin “is sick,” her family is “trying to keep her spirits up and go from there” — adding, “We believe she’ll pull through it. She believes she’ll pull through it, and that’s the important thing.”

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