ARETHA FRANKLIN’S DEATH at the age of 76 this week triggered an outpouring of heartfelt tributes from the press and public alike.
In the hours that followed her passing, the veteran performer was remembered by Paul McCartney, Elton John, Beyoncé, Diana Ross and Barack Obama to name but a few, with every acknowledgement paying tribute to a voice which Obama believed ‘helped define the American experience’.
Given Aretha’s status within the entertainment industry and the esteem with which she was held by her peers, it’s no surprise that anyone who ever enjoyed an exchange with the soul singer was keen to reflect on it in recent hours, but it seems Ashanti’s has left social media users a little puzzled.
The actress and singer took to Instagram to explain that she once had a phone conversation with Aretha, which was devoted solely to SARS – a viral respiratory disease.
We know, we were a little taken aback as well.
Sharing a photo of herself with Aretha, the Grammy Award winner said Aretha had phoned her while she was in Canada to ‘tell her about the germs’.
Setting the scene, Ashanti began:
I had a special moment with the Queen Miss Aretha that is truly dear to my heart. I will never forget I was in Canada for a concert back in 2003 and my mom got a phone call on her cell.
It was Miss Aretha Franklin and at first my mom didn’t believe it until she really listened to her voice. She said to my mom “Hi let me speak to your baby I wanna tell her about these germs” My mom is looking like huh?? And says ‘OK sure of course Ms Aretha’.
So, then what happened?
I get on the phone and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh I can’t believe this is this really Ms. Aretha Franklin? She says “Yes it is baby I’m just calling to tell you to be careful out there you know they got that SARS stuff going on…don’t touch any of the door knobs and hurry up and get out of there! I don’t want you to get sick!”
Naturally, Ashanti – like anyone else after receiving a phone call from one of the most famous performers on the face of the earth – was beside herself over the conversation.
I said ‘Oh my God, thank you so much. I can’t believe you actually called me. This means the world to me thank you so much & I promise to get out of here 1st thing in the morning! It honestly felt like a phone call I would get from my grandma!
Unsurprisingly, the memory has piqued the attention of Twitter users this evening.
Don't think I'll ever recover from that Ashanti Aretha Franklin SARS anecdote tbh.— A Hench Wench (@ChristinaMcMc) August 17, 2018
Aretha Franklin warned Ashanti about SARS in 2003.— ɹǝuǝʇǝǝʍs out TODAY (@KingBeyonceStan) August 17, 2018
This isn’t a sentence I could have prepared for.
Auntie Aretha protecting R&B’s next gen from the threat of SARS. No biggie.— mitch (@limitedmitch) August 17, 2018
This is so ... I don’t even know the word— Emma (@shutupimdancing) August 17, 2018
The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced the person on the phone wasn’t Aretha, just someone Ashanti’s mom asked to pretend to be Aretha so Ashanti would listen because she wanted to leave Canada.— Ryan McPhee (@rdmcphee) August 17, 2018
Thankfully, Ashanti’s Instagram followers were more enthused by the memory than the crew on Twitter, and the post has amassed more than 64,000 likes since its upload.
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