In an exclusive interview with the 'Today' show's Al Roker this morning, Aretha Franklin revealed that she learned the news of Whitney Houston's death much the same way most of America did, on TV. "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 it came across the screen," Houston's longtime friend told Roker on Friday. "I just jumped up off the side of the bed."
Franklin will be just one of several big names attending Houston's private funeral on Saturday in Newark, N.J. She told Roker that Houston's mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, asked her to sing at the service, but she's not sure what song she'll choose just yet. Stevie Wonder is also set to perform, according to TODAY's Jeff Rossen; other star names expected to attend include Houston's "The Bodyguard" co-star Kevin Costner, her mentor Clive Davis, Tyler Perry, R. Kelly, Alicia Keys and cousin Dionne Warwick.
Her former husband, Bobby Brown, is also expected to be there despite rumors; Franklin noted that it's his "responsibility to step up to the plate and be responsible (for daughter Bobbi)." And as to whether Brown could be considered to blame for Houston's problems, Franklin remained neutral: "I really don't have an opinion on that," she said.
Franklin remembered meeting Houston when she was around 10, when the little girl came to visit her at her recording studio. She first heard the girl sing in the late 1970s, and "when she hit the soprano, I said, 'Oh, this little girl can sing! OK, Cissy's baby can sing!'"
To view this morning's interview with Aretha Franklin, click below!