Aretha Franklin’s Eldest Son With Special Needs Was Not Included In The Courtroom Drama Over Singer’s Will

Feb 02, 2024 by apost team

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin made an incomparable impact on the musical world. Known by her friends, family, and fans as the queen of soul, Aretha cut album after album of beautiful songs, inspirational ballads, and motivational dance hits. During her decades-long career, she graced the world with hit songs such as “Respect,” “Freeway of Love,” “Natural Woman,” and “Chain of Fools,” along with countless others.

The singer also gave countless historical performances. She sang a song at Martin Luther King Jr.’s memorial service and astonished the crowd there with her performance of “Precious Lord.” She would later sing a song at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, bringing the president to tears with an unforgettable rendition of “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” 

Not many artists still have that same powerful singing voice in their senior years, but Aretha did. Her soul, her star power, and her presence as a performer were so strong that audiences could still hear her shine well into her 1970s.

Sadly, Aretha was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, but she kept performing and continued to work hard for many years. It wasn’t until February 2017 that she announced her retirement and gave her final performance. She made her final appearance at the Mann Center in August for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Her performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was truly a highlight of Aretha’s career. 

A year after she delivered her final performance, Aretha passed away in August 2018 in Detroit, Michigan, due to pancreatic cancer. Since she amassed millions of dollars throughout her career, the question of inheritance was quickly raised. It was initially ruled that she didn’t leave any will until a letter was found at her home. 

Aretha Franklin (ca 1960), (Bettmann via Getty Images)

Aretha Franklin got pregnant at the young age of 12 years old. According to an article published by People Magazine, her first child Clarence Franklin was born on Jan. 28, 1955. He was named after the singer’s father, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin.

Although the musician had a child at a very young age, her sister Erma revealed in the autobiography “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin” by David Ritz that she went back to school after she gave birth.

 “She was an excellent student who did well in all her classes,” Erma added.

Clarence went on to follow in his mother’s footsteps as he wrote songs, some of which his mom even sang and recorded. Unfortunately, the eldest son of Aretha was diagnosed with an undisclosed mental illness and had to live in assisted living facilities.

Aretha gave birth to her second son, Edward, at the age of 14 in 1957. By that time, the musician had dropped out of school to focus on her career as a singer, which meant that her children were left to her mom, Big Mama. She also worked in the music industry as a gospel singer.

When Aretha was 19 years old, she married Ted White, and they welcomed their child together named Ted White Jr., also known as Teddy. He grew up under his father’s care but kept in touch with his mom and even played as a backup guitarist in her band for a long time.

Lastly, the youngest brother, Kecalf Cunningham, was born in March 1970. He also had a career as a musician because he performed as a gospel rapper. He has several children, one of whom auditioned for “American Idol” in 2022.

Aretha Franklin (1992), (Paul Natkin/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

According to an article published by BBC News in July 2023, Aretha didn’t leave an official will that would determine the division of her millions of dollars. However, handwritten letters were later found in a cabinet and under a sofa cushion at her home in Michigan.

The New York Times reported that Aretha’s net worth was valued at $18 million at the time of her death.

Forbes later reported that a Pontiac, Michigan, jury determined that the document found under the couch was valid as it was written in 2014, overruling the one found in a locked cabinet, which had been written in 2010.

Based on the latest written will, which was the 2014 one, Kecalf will be the sole owner of Aretha’s home in Detroit, which is valued at $1.1 million.

It was also written in the letter that three of her sons Kecalf, Edward, and Teddy, will receive equal shares of her music royalties. In addition, her youngest son, Kecalf, will be the owner of Aretha’s cars that she left behind.

Clarence was not involved in the dispute regarding Aretha’s will, as he wasn’t explicitly left anything at all. Since he’s living with assistance due to his condition, the lawyer of his guardians told BBC that they “have reached a settlement that gives Clarence a percentage of the estate without regard to the outcome of the will contest.”

Even though he wasn’t involved with the case, it was reported by NBC News that both the 2010 and 2014 handwritten wills indicated that Clarence must be supported financially by the estate.

Aretha Franklin (2017), (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

What are your thoughts on Aretha Franklin’s written will? Do you think her eldest son should also receive a percentage of her music royalties? Let us know your thoughts, and make sure to pass this on to your friends and family. 

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