NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin will not be attending a baseball luncheon during which she was to receive a “Beacon” award for embodying the spirit of the civil rights movement, The Associated Press has learned.
Franklin, 71, has already canceled several concerts recently because of undisclosed health reasons. In a statement issued yesterday by Major League Baseball, the Grammy-winning “Queen of Soul” referred to ongoing “treatment” that prevented her from traveling. Franklin lives in the Detroit area; the luncheon is being held in Chicago on Saturday.
As recently as last week, Franklin had been expected to attend the luncheon.
“I greatly appreciate being a Beacon Award recipient,” Franklin said in her statement. “Presently, I am unable to travel as I continue my treatment. I am working toward a full recovery.”
Franklin and former baseball star Bo Jackson were to be presented “Beacon” awards, which in previous years have been given to Willie Mays and Harry Belafonte among others. Major League Baseball plans to announce at a later date, but before the ceremony, who will accept the award on Franklin’s behalf. The “Beacon” luncheon is one of several events marking baseball’s Civil Rights Game weekend.
“It is unfortunate that Aretha Franklin will not be able to attend the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, but Major League Baseball wishes her the best throughout her treatment,” said baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, executive vice president of baseball development for Major League Baseball.
Franklin has had health issues before. In 2010, she was hospitalized and underwent surgery for undisclosed reasons. Vigils were held for her and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a family friend, referred to her surgery as “serious.”