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The singer made the comment during an interview with local station WDIV when discussing the last time she saw Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer.
“The last time I talked to her, we were at the same hotel and we didn’t know it,” she said. “I know her crew and family. She knows my crew and family.” She explained that Franklin requested Knight come see her immediately. “I went down. I said, ‘ReRe, what you doing out here?’ And we just got to talking and everything, and at that time we shared that fact that we had the same disease.”
Knight’s publicist, Javier Delgado, later told The Detroit News, that Knight does not have cancer and that he wasn’t sure what she meant by the comment. “Maybe she meant she feels her pain. But she does not have cancer,” Delgado said.
Knight, known as the Empress of Soul, has won seven Grammy Awards throughout her career. She and her act, Gladys Knight & the Pips, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
“We lost our queen,” said Knight about the passing of Franklin when speaking to WDIV. “And she’s my sister and she’s family.”
She continued, “I didn’t want her to suffer and it’s not our business. It’s the Lord’s business. You know, he calls us when we’re supposed to come home and she has done more than her share of using that gift that she was blessed with and I’m just glad to be here to honor her at this time.”
Watch the interview above.
Aug. 31, 1 p.m. This story has been updated with Knight’s publicist’s comment. An earlier version of this story said Knight revealed a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
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