Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, 69, engaged to longtime friend

Posted Jan 3, 2012 by Joan Firstenberg
Soul singer extraordinaire, Aretha Franklin may be 69 years old, but she says not to worry, she isn't getting married because she's pregnant. Franklin will marry her longtime friend, Willy Wilkerson, a former Detroit firefighter.
Aretha Franklin sings  My Country  Tis Of Thee   at the U.S. Capitol during the 56th presidential in...
Aretha Franklin sings "My Country 'Tis Of Thee'" at the U.S. Capitol during the 56th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009.
Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force
Aretha Franklin is engaged to her longtime friend William (Willie) Wilkerson, formerly a Detroit firefighter.
The BBC reports that the soul legend, who was raised in Detroit, issued a statement the day after New Years saying that she and Wilkerson, who made their decision over the holidays, are thinking about having a summer wedding, perhaps in Miami Beach, Florida with a reception to follow on board a private yacht.
The 69-year old Queen of Soul jokes,
“We're looking at June or July for our date, and no, I'm not pregnant, LOL!”
Franklin's spokeswoman, Tracey J. Jordan, says Wilkerson has been the
"The singer's“close friend and confidant for many, many years.” puts the news of Franklin's new marriage plans this way,
"Aretha Franklin has always been one to add a sprinkle of spunk and a little mystery to her relationships. She has never publicly announced her children’s fathers, and she later had a quick affair that led to a marriage with Ted White."
This will be the third time down the aisle for the "Queen of Soul", according to the Hollywood Reporter. She was previously married to actor Ted White followed by actor Glynn Turman of A Different World and The Wire.
Franklin says she's now busy debating which designer she will choose to produce her wedding dress. She says it's between Vera Wang, Valentino and Donna Karan. reports that the powerhouse singer, who reportedly battled pancreatic cancer in 2010, has fully recovered from it, with a doctor telling her that surgery she underwent a year ago could add 15 to 20 years to her life.
Franklin made a surprise pre-taped appearance at the 2011 Grammy Awards at the end of a tribute to her featuring Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Florence Welch, Martina McBride and Yolanda Adams.
The Soul legend has won 18 Grammy Awards and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2009. She is renowned for her songs, some of which include, "Respect," "Natural Woman" and "Soul Serenade".