Taylor Hill/Getty ImagesWhile Aretha Franklin was known to the world as the Queen of Soul, her family knew her as a loving, family-oriented matriarch. After her passing Thursday from advanced pancreatic cancer, Franklin’s nephew, Vaughn Franklin, spoke to ABC’s Nightline about the singer’s family life.
“When our parents passed away, my auntie became the matriarch of the family. She took the nieces and nephews — especially myself — under her wing,” Franklin said. “She took care of us.”
He went on to explain that his Aunt Aretha was so much more than just an incredible singer.
“When she walked off stage, she was an auntie, she was a mother, she was a grandmother, she was a cousin.” Franklin said. “She was everything to the family, and the family meant a lot to her.”
In her final days, Franklin even had the opportunity to say goodbye to his aunt and surrogate mother.
“We had the chance to just sit together,” he said. “I had a chance to really open up and tell her how I felt and thanked her for being so important to me and taking me under her wing as an aunite and loving me the way she did.”
Franklin said he would never forget Aretha’s Christmas parties, to which she invited all the family members so everyone could be together. He also reminiscenced about the time she hosted a party and had truckloads of sand delivered to her backyard so they could have a beach-party theme.
Aretha Franklin was a singing legend around the world but to her family and friends, she also known for her cooking. Vaughn Franklin said her peach cobbler especially was memorable and she was always happy to teach him how to make it.
As for claims Aretha Franklin was occasionally a diva, her nephew said that term never bothered him or the family.
“She didn’t want anyone thinking of her as the Queen of Soul when we were together,” he said. “It was auntie.”
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