Aretha Franklin Calls Out Kathie Lee For ‘Idol’ Criticism, Host Apologizes

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(Getty Images/Neilson Barnard)

(Getty Images/Neilson Barnard)

Aretha Franklin is demanding some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Queen of Soul is firing back at Kathie Lee Gifford, who questioned whether the legend is too old for American Idol.

On the Today Show, Kathie Lee commented on Aretha’s bid for one of the Idol judging spots claiming that some young contestants might not even be able to name one of her songs.

“If they are looking for a younger demographic, there are a lot of kids out there (who) actually don’t know who Aretha Franklin is,” she said. “It’s sad, but they don’t.”

The host wondered whether the 70-year-old is the right fit for the show, questioning not only her age, but the fact that Aretha is afraid of flying, making it hard for her to get to auditions.

Aretha, though, disagreed and expressed her opposing view in an email to CNN.

“While I enjoy Kathie Lee…daily, her assessment is totally wrong! I’ve been to California from Detroit four times this year and Florida. I go wherever I choose to go comfortably on my custom bus.”

The soul singer continued by saying her audience covers all generations from teens, tweens and anything in between.

“I’m surprised Kathie Lee did not research my worldwide celebrity audience!” Aretha wrote. “She’s usually right on top of things with a great sense of humor, but she’s totally wrong this time. She should research me before she speaks about me.”

Hours after Aretha clicked send, Kathie Lee apologized for her comments.

“I need to apologize to a certain Miss Aretha apparently,” she said on Wednesday morning’s Today. “My point was that there’s a whole generation of kids who don’t know who Barbra Streisand is or Sinatra. They don’t know some of the greats who have come before. They only know who has been born in the last ten years.”

With this whole debacle behind them, Aretha is ready to continue her campaign for the seat. She even seems to have her catchphrase all ready:

“I could enjoy being a judge for a season or two,” she wrote. “Let’s kick it up a few notches and have a slammin’, jammin’ season.”

After J.Lo and Steven Tyler announced they would not be returning for season 12, Aretha put her resume in the pile for the judging job in an email to CNN last Saturday (July 14). She even suggested they sign her friend Patti LaBelle on too, as her sidekick.

-Shannon Carlin, CBS Local

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