Stevie Wonder revealed some of his last words to his longtime friend and fellow music legend Aretha Franklin before her death on Thursday.
“She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me, and so I just said all the things that I’ve always said and told her to say hello to my sister – that I lost this year as well,” Wonder said on “CBS This Morning” while choking up about his visit to Franklin’s home in Detroit on Tuesday. “But, you know, she did incredible music, incredible singer. She touched every genre. Every singer was influenced in some way by the way she sang, and they will forever be influenced by her because of her voice, her emotion, her sincerity is unforgettable.”
Wonder said he and Franklin were talking about collaborating as recently as two months ago.
“We’d been talking about it. There was a song that I had written called ‘The Future,’ and we were going to sing it together. And so,” Franklin said, pausing as he was overcome with emotion, “I thought I cried my last tear.”
He pointed to Franklin’s power to transform songs and make them her own.
“I knew ‘Respect’ from Otis Redding, but when I heard her sing it, it was like hearing a whole new song. Amazing what she did with the song, originally done by Otis Redding,” Wonder said. “But, you know, another similarity to that is the song that I wrote, ‘Until You Come Back to Me.’ … The greatest gift for me was when I heard her sing ‘Until You Come Back to Me.’ Someone said on one of the channels yesterday that when she sings your song, she takes it, and you don’t get it back. And that’s what she did.”
“I don’t mind it at all,” he added.
Wonder said being raised in Detroit, Franklin was one of his great inspirations.
“She was just consistently a great human being, and she always – even with whatever turmoil may have been happening in her life, even through her illness – she did not put that on anybody else,” Wonder said. “She believed, I think that most of all she was doing God’s work, and she was. She brought joy to others’ lives, and she will – her voice and the essence of her will long live all of us that are here right now.”
Franklin’s family said the artist died from advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. The cause of death was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, according to the family’s statement.