"I had just finished watching George Clooney in The Descendants and I flipped back to the regular TV and maybe two minutes after I did that, it came across the screen," Franklin said on the Today show Friday. "I just jumped off the side of the bed [and said] 'What?' This could not be. What is this? I just said, 'Oh my, God.'"
Franklin had been hopeful that Houston was gearing up for a comeback. "I saw some of the previews from Sparkle, and she looked fresh, she looked healthy and she looked gorgeous. I thought, 'Yes, she has conquered her challenges and she's on the way.'"
Sadly, that didn't turn out to be the case. The Queen of Soul will, however, be singing at Houston's funeral this Saturday…
"It's not gonna be easy," she said of her scheduled performance. "But Cissy [Houston, Whitney's mother] asked me to and I'm just gonna try and do my best."
Franklin also hopes Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, will embrace his role as the father of their 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina. "I think it's her dad's responsibility to step up to the plate," she said. "And be responsible. But there are a lot of factors. It's really not for me to say."
While the 69-year-old singer admitted Houston's personal struggles had taken their toll throughout her career, she doesn't think "we should focus on the challenges she had."
Instead, she wrote some poignant lyrics to memorialize Houston. "Twinkle twinkle superstar/We don't wonder where you are/Up above the world so bright/Like a diamond in the night/Twinkle twinkle she stood alone/I can't believe that she's gone."