Stevie Wonder Says Aretha Franklin 'Wasn't Able to Speak' When He Visited Her Before Her Death
"She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me," Stevie Wonder said of Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin was surrounded by loved ones at the time of her death but her famed voice had fallen silent.
One of those to pay their respects to the Queen of Soul before her death was Stevie Wonder, who revealed he and Franklin had made plans to make new music just months ago.
“We talked about doing some music, as recent as two months ago, we talked about it,” Wonder, 68, said in an interview Friday on CBS This Morning.
“And so…,” the singer trailed off as he choked back tears. “I thought I cried my last tear, I said I’d get it together… I flew out from L.A. to Detroit and went to see her and spoke to her.”
“She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me. I told her to say hello to my sister that I lost this year as well,” he said, referring to the death of his sister, Renee Hardaway, in May.
Wonder continued recalling Franklin’s career and her impact on his own.
“She did incredible music, incredible singer. She touched every genre. Every singer was influenced in some way by the way she sang. They will forever be influenced by her because of her voice, her emotion, her sincerity is unforgettable,” he said.
“I remember hearing her singing at the Reverend Franklin’s church when I was little — maybe I was 4 or 5 years old — because my mother would always listen to the church services on Sunday,” Wonder continued. “And so the voices I remember most in my life would be Dr. King, her voice, and her father, Reverend Franklin.”
“She was just consistently a great human being and she always — even with whatever turmoil that may have been happening in her life — she did not put that on anybody else. She believed most of all that she was doing God’s work,” he said.
“She brought joy to a lot of lives and her voice and the essence of her will stay with all of us,” he added.
Franklin died Thursday morning of advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, her publicist confirmed to PEOPLE. She was 76.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds,” the family said in a statement.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
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Her publicist told PEOPLE Friday the legend’s funeral will take place on Friday, Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.
While the ceremony — slated to begin at 10 a.m. — will be strictly limited to friends and family of the late singer, fans will still have a chance to honor her a few days earlier.
On Aug. 28 and 29, public viewings will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. On both days, fans will be able to pay their respects from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Following the funeral service, Franklin will be laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery.
“Aretha Franklin will be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan, along with her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin; brother Cecil Franklin; sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin; and nephew, Thomas Garrett,” her rep told PEOPLE.