Locals react to Aretha Franklin's health condition, talks about her impact in Houston

HOUSTON – Houstonians are sharing their thoughts and prayers with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin after learning of her grave illness Monday. 

Rev. Bill Lawson met Franklin in 1967 when she came to Houston with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

"Aretha was not just an entertainer, she was also a cause activist," Lawson said. 

Franklin's music is at the center of an annual tribute to soul music called "Dancin' in the Street, Motown and More".

"She is (a) major reason we started this company and promote this music was to honor Aretha and those people who created this fabulous genre. She has influenced so many people," said Shirley Marks Whitmore, a founding producer of the show, which is put on at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park every spring.
One person influenced by Franklin is Desiree Washington, a local singer who performs as the legend in the musical.

"It is an honor to be in a position to even attempt to portray her in the show. She's amazing," Washington said. 

About the Author: