Ronald Isley, who sang at Franklin’s funeral, shed tears while introducing “Jesus Loves Me,” recalling for the crowd at the Motor City Casino Hotel’s Sound Board that he met Franklin during 1959. “I thought she was the best singer I ever heard in my life,” Isley said. “She was my best friend in show business from that day in 1959 all the way up to 2018. Isley recalled how he and Franklin “used to stay up all night and talk about Sam Cooke, and he credited Franklin with turning him on to Whitney Houston.
Isley and company dedicated “Jesus Loves Me” to both Franklin and Houston, and the next song, “For the Love of You,” to Franklin alone.
Prior to the concert, guitarist Ernie Isley told Billboard that he and Ronald would routinely visit with Franklin if they ever crossed paths, “taking pictures, laughing and all that, dancing a little bit. I remember one time she was singing into a hairbrush, always just a wonderful experience…Those will always be great and cherished memories with her.”
Franklin was recently honored at an all-star Grammy Salute concert filmed on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles and slated for broadcast March 10 on CBS.