Family emergency cited

Soul legend Aretha Franklin has cancelled a planned appearance at Brown's University due to a family emergency.

Aretha Franklin is one of the finest vocalists working in the world today. The singer was born to a Baptist Minister, with her early singing career coming in the church. Heavily influenced by gospel music, Franklin signed to Columbia Records in 1960.

However the label never understood her talent, marketing Aretha Franklin as a younger version of Ella Fitzgerald. Leaving Columbia in favour of Atlantic, the singer turned towards soul music scoring a series of era defining hits.

As race riots gripped America in the summer of love radios across the world echoed with Aretha Franklin's version of 'Respect' - a song still capable of making the hairs rise on the back of your neck.

A heroine to the civil rights movement, Aretha Franklin was chosen to sing at the inauguration of Barack Obama. However the singer herself was unhappy with the performance, blaming cold weather and later re-recorded her song for release as a free download.

There was one unexpected benefactor of Franklin's appearance at the inauguration. Her hat became a talking point in the United States, going on to sell thousands and turning its little known Detroit designer into a household name.

Astonishingly, Aretha Franklin has now sung at the inauguration of two Presidents - the singer performed at Bill Clinton's ceremony in 1993. To date Franklin has grabbed an astonishing 20 Grammy awards.

Aretha Franklin was due to receive an honorary doctorate from Brown University, but was forced to cancel due to a family emergency. Brown is a member of the Ivy League, and is one of the most prestigious seats of learning in the United States.

“The entire campus community - especially the graduating Class of 2009 - will miss the opportunity to honor Ms. Franklin and the remarkable music she has created during her long career. We wish her and her family well and hope to honour her on another occasion,” the University said in a statement.

It is not known when Aretha Franklin will now be presented with the degree.

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