Aretha Franklin seriously ill, surrounded by 'an army of family and friends' in Detroit

- Concerns over the health of music legend Aretha Franklin are growing as the news has come out that the Queen of Soul is seriously ill. 

FOX 2 Detroit news anchor Huel Perkins, a close friend, says she she is surrounded by loved ones right now in Detroit after being challenged health wise for the past year or so. 

"I can tell you that she is surrounded by her family and her friends and they are requesting that all of us who have enjoyed her music and her voice and her talent, say a prayer for her. Life her up and lift her family up in this difficult time," he said Monday morning. 

Aretha, 76, has battled numerous health problems over the years, and even canceled a series of concerts in 2017 citing doctor's orders. Huel couldn't elaborate on those health issues but said all will be made clear in the time to come. 

"I'm speaking both as a reporter and a friend, and it's a difficult situation. There are some things that Aretha and I discussed over the years and she is just a remarkable woman," he said. "This last year or so she's been challenged health wise but her spirits were high, always high, and her faith was always strong. That is, I think, what we should say about Aretha today. She is fighting; she is doing her best and she is surrounded by an army of family and friends."

Beginning in 2010, Aretha began experiencing health problems. She was in and out of the hospital. Although never disclosing her illness, it appears her health began to improve. In 2015 Aretha sang for the pope, gave an acclaimed performance at the Kennedy Center Honors and one year after that performed the national anthem at the annual Lions Thanksgiving Day game.

Meanwhile, many music personalities and other celebrities have sent get well wishes on social media. 

Aretha was born in Memphis, Tenn. March 25, 1942. Her family made Detroit their home just a few short years later. She grew up singing in her dad's house of worship, New Bethel Baptist Church on Linwood.

As a teenager, Aretha's father helped her launch a gospel career. But at 18 -- Aretha had a new vision. She signed on with Columbia Records and, in a few years, she would have her first Top Forty hit on American Radio.

Aretha was a rising star in the R&B world but to reach the next level of stardom, she knew she had to shake things up. In 1967 she signed with Atlantic Records -- and the rest would become music history.

"Respect" shot up to the top of the charts and not only became Aretha's signature song, it also became an anthem for civil rights and feminism. Her chart dominance with singles like "Natural Woman," "Baby I Love You," "Chain of Fools" and "I Say a Little Prayer" earned her the title Queen of Soul.

She received our nation's greatest honor. In 2005, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She would return to the nation's capitol in 2009 with a show-stopping rendition of "My Country Tis of Thee" for the inauguration of president Obama.

This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 2 for updates. 

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