Aretha Franklin: ‘I wasn’t uninvited to Whitney Houston’s funeral’

Soul legend criticises media speculation and denies falling out with Houston's mother Cissy

Aretha Franklin has denied she was uninvited from Whitney Houston‘s funeral by the late singer’s mother.

The ‘Respect’ singer had been scheduled to perform at the service, but cancelled abruptly citing a bout of leg spasms as the reason she couldn’t pay tribute to her goddaughter.

Her absence from the ceremony sparked rumours she had been told not to attend by Houston’s mother Cissy after a feud broke out between the pair, with a row erupting following comments Franklin made in an interview with the Today Show’s Al Roker.

“I think parents have to really talk to their children before they leave home … [that they] leave home prepared, really. She left home with all the right things,” Franklin told Al Roker last week.

However, Franklin has since said he quotes were taken out of context and has aimed to clarify reports in an interview with The Associated Press.

“Cissy Houston and I have been longtime friends for almost 50 years. I have four invitations and parking passes that were sent to me for the funeral,” she said. “Cissy does not need ridiculous speculation and neither do I, particularly at this time.”

She went on to add: “Knowing Cissy as well as I do, I know Whitney left home right and properly. I was generalising and it was a well-intended statement for any young adult coming into the music industry. I was not speaking of anyone specifically.”

Houston’s funeral took place at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey over the weekend (February 18) and included performances from Stevie Wonder, R Kelly and Alicia Keys.

Her ex-husband Bobby Brown left the service in dramatic fashion 20 minutes after arriving, before climbing into a waiting SUV outside and being driven away. According to reports, he later returned to the ceremony by a side door.

Houston passed away last Saturday (February 11) at the age of 48, after she was discovered underwater and unconscious in a bath at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Though it has been widely reported that she died as a result of an overdose of Xanax and other prescription drugs mixed with alcohol, police have said it may take up to eight weeks for her cause of death to be formally confirmed.

A police spokesman has said that although prescription drugs were present in the singer’s room, reports that they were involved in her death were still only “rumours and speculation”.

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