If Ryan Murphy needs any inspiration for Feud's third season, he might want to consider the drama unfolding between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. The "Respect" singer, who recently announced plans for retirement, accused fellow soul diva Dionne Warwick of making "libelous" statements about her on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Aretha notably covered Dionne's hits "Walk on By" and "I Say a Little Prayer" in the late '60s, but apparently the bad blood between them has been simmering for years. "At this point, it isn't about an apology, it's about libel," she said. "We've never been friends, and I don't think that Dionne has ever liked me."
The drama allegedly all started five years ago at Whitney Houston's funeral. Dionne was making a speech in front of the funeral-goers and introduced Aretha before realizing that she wasn't actually there. "'Ree's not here, but she is here," she said, using the 75-year-old's nickname. "She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother." Though Aretha insists her reason for not being there was genuine - she was resting her swollen feet so she'd be in good enough shape to follow through with a contractually obligated performance later that night at Radio City Music Hall - she was angry her name had been brought up at all, especially since she's not actually Whitney's godmother (a fact she claims Dionne is well aware of, since Dionne and Whitney are cousins).
In the days following the funeral, Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston, clarified that Darlene Love was actually her daughter's godmother, but in Aretha's eyes, the damage had been done. She planned to address Dionne's mistake herself, but said, "There's been so much going on around [Whitney], around the service, around the drugs, around her and Bobby [Brown] supposed to be fighting, I didn't want to add anything to that and I didn't want to be a part of that." Apparently five years is long enough. After sending the AP "a lengthy fax" about her beef with Dionne, she hopped on the phone to describe their most recent run-in, and said that Dionne's statement at the funeral was intentional. "She blatantly lied on me . . . fully well knowing what she was doing."
While both singers were at the Tribeca Film Festival's premiere of the documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Dionne reportedly approached Aretha backstage. "She said, 'Give me a hug.' I said, 'Oh hell no. You couldn't be serious,'" Aretha recalled. Although no video footage of the incident exists (that we know of), we can only imagine it went something like the time Aretha famously denied Patti Labelle a hug at a performance at the White House. As for a response to Aretha's fighting words, Dionne released a statement through her representative, Angelo Ellerbee: "She will not dignify a response to the statement made by Aretha Franklin."