Aretha Franklin’s family spoke out Sunday in response to Wendy Williams’ “inaccurate” and “disparaging” comments about the forthcoming concert documentary Amazing Grace. Originally shot in 1972, the documentary showcases the late singer performing over two consecutive nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
During Friday’s episode of her Wendy Williams Show, the talk show host called out the film’s quality and questioned the intentions behind its posthumous release.
“I would imagine that now the bill collectors are like, ‘OK, rest in peace, Aretha Franklin. But we still need our money for this, we need money for that. So by putting this movie out, I would say the estate is probably going to be paying the bills with this,” she said during her “Hot Topics” segment.
The veteran host highlighted Franklin’s less glamorous look in the film. Williams added, “Now, you know, Miss Franklin she was very into her showgirl glamour and stuff. This was just regular makeup for her. She would want the pressed hair, and the done lashes, and a good outfit and her background people to be fabulous.”
Franklin’s family released a lengthy statement to the Detroit Press hitting back at several key things Williams said in her recap of the film.
The family of the late singer called out the talk show host for taunting the film. “Ms. Franklin had specifically sought to perform in a stripped-down, church-service setting. By showing a brief clip out of context and mocking its quality on her show, Williams inaccurately represented Ms. Franklin and the movie to her audience.”
The statement addressed Williams’ claim that Franklin did not want the film to be released, “And while Franklin had initially imposed an injunction on “Amazing Grace,” her objections had nothing to do with its quality; negotiations were incomplete at the time of her death. Her family feels this documentary is another prime example of The Queen of Soul’s genius.”
Addressing comments about Franklin’s physical appearance, the statement continued, “1972 was the era of Black Power and Black Is Beautiful,” the estate said. “In her short natural hair and simple makeup, Ms. Franklin was in step with the times and appropriate to the occasion. There was no ‘showgirl glamour,’ no ‘pressed hair’ and no ‘eyelashes’—the lack of which Williams ridiculed on her program. The simplicity of the presentation gives ‘Amazing Grace’ its power.”
In closing, the statement said, “Wendy Williams is the host of the most-watched daytime gossip show in syndicated television. However, that does not give her license to offer misleading commentary about a legacy entertainer based on unverified information.”
Amazing Grace hits theaters April 19. Take a look at its trailer below:
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Jasmine Washington is a beauty-obsessed journalist by day and a trap music connoisseur by night. A lifelong New Yorker, she got her start as an intern at the now-defunct Juicy Magazine. Jasmine joined the EBONY.com team as a writer, penning daily stories on all things Black culture and entertainment.