There are plenty of divas. But there can only be one queen.
Aretha Franklin has lashed out at well-intentioned comments made by Beyoncé Knowles during the latter's introduction of Tina Turner on the Grammy stage Sunday night. Franklin, 65, says she felt disrepected after Knowles referred to Turner as the Queen, while relegating Franklin to a brief name check in a long list of inspirational singers past, an act apparently tantamount to musical heresy.
"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyoncé. However, I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy," a clearly offended Franklin said in an unprompted statement issued by her publicist.
As yet, neither Knowles' camp nor the Recording Academy has copped to penning the offensive intro, though Knowles' father and manager Mathew has already shot back at the Franklin.
"Something this ridiculous—it's childish, it's unprofessional," he said in a statement Thursday. "And it's a sad day when egos get bruised because somebody used the word king, queen, prince or princess."
What exactly set off Franklin's perceived lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T? That would be Knowles' rambling spoken-word tribute to Turner, with whom Knowles performed, at the weekend awards show.
"Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan: Historical women who have performed on this very stage," Knowles said onstage. "When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being on this stage. But I knew I needed all the elements, like the beat of Donna Summer, the spirit of Mahalia Jackson, the jazz of Ella or Nancy.
"Lena Horne, Anita Baker, Diana Ross. Gladys, Janet and the beautiful melodies of Whitney. The legacy they have bestowed are simply irreplaceable. But there is one legend who has the essence of all of these things: the glamour, the soul, the passion, the strength, the talent. Ladies and gentleman...give it up for the Queen."
Cue the entrance of the 68-year-old Turner and the ire of Franklin, who, in fairness to her dismay, has long been publicly designated as the Queen of Soul.
Franklin, who went on to perform in a gospel medley later in the evening, and who shared an award with Mary J. Blige for Best Gospel Performance for the duet "Never Gonna Break My Faith," still managed to take time out from her bitch session to thank the Recording Academy, which earlier honored her as their 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year, and inform a certain superstar that there were no hard feelings for the slight.
"I thank the Grammys and the voting academy for my 20th Grammy and love to Beyoncé anyway."
(Originally published Feb. 13, 2008 at 8:15 a.m. PST.)