Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 13 News List

PLANET POP

Agencies

Aretha Franklin is reportedly battling pancreatic cancer.

Photo: EPA

Soul legend Aretha Franklin has cancer and underwent surgery last week, media reported Wednesday, after she canceled engagements for the near future.

Fox 2 News in Detroit cited a relative as saying the 68-year-old “Queen of Soul” is doing “OK,” but that the family is very concerned, and is asking for supporters to send their thoughts and prayers.

Representatives for Franklin, who rose from singing gospel to top charts in the 1960s and 1970s with hits like Respect, Think and Chain of Fools, did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

Fox 2 News quoted Franklin herself as saying she had “highly successful” surgery last week. “God is still in control. I had superb doctors and nurses whom were blessed by all the prayers of the city and the country,” she said.

The Detroit News meanwhile reported the singer had pancreatic cancer, which has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, killing around 95 percent of patients within five years of diagnosis.

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze died from the same form of cancer in September last year.

Franklin canceled a number of concerts in October citing “health reasons,” while early last month, doctors ordered her to cancel all engagements for the next six months, according to the Detroit News.

Arguably the most influential female singer in the US in her lifetime, Franklin’s powerful, bell-clear voice is unmistakable, from a whisper to full-gospel-choir force that stretched over four octaves.

It has influenced the styles of two generations or more of divas, from Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston — whose mother was a backup singer for Franklin — to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Amy Winehouse.

Franklin has continued belting out her old hits into her 60s, and issuing both old and new collections of recordings that still sold strongly 40 years after Respect earned her the Queen of Soul title in 1967.

She gave a stirring rendition of US anthem Let Freedom Ring at US President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January last year.

A home video of singer Miley Cyrus using a bong apparently to smoke the hallucinogenic herb salvia hit the Internet on Friday, capping a year which has seen the teen star throw aside her squeaky clean Disney image.

The video obtained by celebrity Web site TMZ.com was said to have been shot days after Cyrus turned 18 years old last month.

It shows the Disney Channel Hannah Montana star giggling and laughing after smoking from a large glass pipe, commonly called a bong. TMZ said sources close to Cyrus told the celebrity news Web site that the video was shot by one of Cyrus’ friends but the substance was not marijuana, which is typically smoked in bongs.

“Is that me tripping!?” Cyrus exclaims in the video, after using the bong and mistaking another person at the party for her ex-boyfriend, actor Liam Hemsworth.

The herb salvia divinorum has hallucinogenic properties but is not illegal in California. According to a 2007 US survey on drug use and health, about one million people had used it that year.

Representatives for Cyrus did not return requests for comment on Friday.

Actor Wesley Snipes began serving a three-year sentence at a federal prison in Pennsylvania on Thursday for failure to file income tax returns.

Snipes, 48, arrived shortly before noon at the Federal Correctional Institution McKean in the tiny northwestern Pennsylvania town of Lewis Run, federal prisons spokesman Ed Ross said. He had been ordered to surrender by noon.

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