Stevie Wonder fights back tears remembering Aretha Franklin

Stevie Wonder choked back tears on Friday (17Aug18) as he broke his silence over the death of his close friend and collaborator Aretha Franklin.

The Superstition hitmaker had visited Aretha at her home in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, after she was reported to be "gravely ill", and in an TV interview on America's CBS This Morning, Stevie reveals it was clear the Queen of Soul didn't have long to live.

"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," Wonder explained, referring to the sibling he lost earlier this year (18).

The two artists had been planning on teaming up for a new song, most recently discussing the collaboration just two months ago, but they had not gotten around to laying down vocals together.

"We'd been talking about it," Stevie said. "There was a song that I had written called The Future, and we were going to sing it together."

Overcome with emotion, his voice started to break as he paused and admitted, "I thought I cried my last tear."

The Queen of Soul had previously shared her hopes of working on an original track with Stevie last summer (17) for her next album, which had been due to be the first to include new material since 2011's Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love.

Reflecting on her musical legacy, Wonder remarked, "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..."

He also reminisced about their personal friendship, and hailed Aretha as a huge inspiration of his own, having grown up in the same city of Detroit, Michigan.

"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," Stevie continued.

"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 (out) live all of us that are here right now."

Aretha lost her battle with advanced pancreatic cancer on Thursday, aged 76.

According to her death certificate, obtained by TMZ, she will be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, where civil rights activist Rosa Parks was buried following her death in 2005.

A date has yet to be set, but her family reportedly plans to stage a public memorial service and open casket viewing at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in the city, where Aretha was a frequent visitor, followed by a private funeral service at Greater Grace Temple, before she is laid to rest.

Sources tell the outlet it will be part of a four-day celebration of her life.

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