- (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
Aretha Franklin has received widespread criticism after canceling her scheduled appearance at her goddaughter Whitney Houston's funeral on Saturday and going on to perform a concert that same night.
The renowned singer, famously dubbed the "Queen of Soul," claimed that she was not well enough to travel to Newark, N.J., for Houston's funeral after suffering leg spasms but offered kind words for her grieving family.
"[My] heart goes out to my dear friend Cissy, Dionne, Bobbi Kristina and the rest of the family. May God keep them all," Franklin said in a statement, according to TMZ.
Houston fans were angered after it was learned that despite being too ill for Houston's funeral, the 69-year-old took to the stage at Radio City Hall in N.Y. to belt out tunes for the end of her "greatest hits" tour, although Franklin did dedicate the concert to Houston.
"She was a very fine young lady...one of the best, greatest singers. She was giving, gave so much of herself. God bless you, Nippy...We'll always remember," Franklin told audience members.
"Nippy" was a nickname affectionately given to Houston by family and friends, and Franklin also gave her own rendition of Houston's classic hit "I Will Always Love You."
Despite Franklin's non-appearance at what was referred to as Houston's "homegoing," sources say that she was in fact grief-stricken and genuinely regretful about the unfortunate circumstances which ultimately prevented her from attending.
Attendees of Houston's funeral, which was a partially star-studded event, were left stunned after Houston's cousin, Dionne Warwick, called Franklin to the stage before announcing that she was not present.
Celebrities who did turn out for Houston's "homecoming" included her long-time mentor Clive Davis, singer Alicia Keys, screenwriter Tyler Perry, and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey.
Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room bath tub just one week earlier, after allegedly downing various anti-anxiety prescription drugs.
The mother of one was reportedly laid to rest on Sunday in a private burial service next to her father, the late John Russell Houston Jr.