Photo Credit: Shahar Azran/Getty Images
Aretha Franklin will not be ushering in her 70th birthday with a wedding after all. The Queen of Soul, 69, announced on Monday that her engagement to longtime friend Willie Wilkerson has been called off.
"Regretfully, To Our Friends and Supporters: Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly," said Franklin and Wilkerson in a joint statement. "We will not comment on it any further because of the very personal and sensitive nature of it. We appreciate all of the many well wishes from friends."
Franklin and Wilkerson announced their engagement on Jan. 3, with tentative plans to exchange vows in Miami Beach this summer.
"We're looking at June or July for our date and no I'm not pregnant, LOL!" Franklin said in a statement.
Wilkerson, whom Franklin likes to call her "forever friend," has been in the singer's life for decades. A volunteer firefighter, he met Franklin in the mid-'80s when he asked her to autograph a cast on his leg. The couple had already been dating for a few years when they appeared together on the cover of Jet in 1987, alongside the caption "Aretha Franklin Finds Happiness With New Love In Her Life."
Since then, the pair has been very private about their relationship, as Franklin is about most aspects of her personal life. Just months before announcing her engagement, Franklin had declined to confirm whether she and Wilkerson were still involved at all.
In other words: Don't hold your breath for more details to emerge about Franklin and Wilkerson's split. If Aretha wants to tell us anything -- like whether she and Willie are still together after the scuttled nuptial plans -- she'll sing it on her next album! Meanwhile, we'll just have to R-E-S-P-E-C-T her privacy.