aretha franklin (screenshot speaking on whitney)*In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” Aretha Franklin tells Al Roker that believed Whitney Houston had overcome her demons and was primed for a comeback, which made learning of the troubled singer’s death all the more shocking.

The Queen of Soul said she was watching TV in her hotel room in Charlotte, N.C., when she learned of Houston’s death in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“I just jumped up off the side of the bed: ‘What?! This could not be!'”

Franklin said she had seen recent video of Houston who she says looked good.

“She looked healthy and she looked gorgeous. And I thought, ‘Yes, she has conquered her challenges and she’s on the way.'”

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Aretha says fans should remember Whitney Houston for her artistry and not focus on the challenges she faced with substance abuse.

Recalling how Houston’s smile made her eyes twinkle, Franklin then recited a poem she wrote in Houston’s memory:

“Twinkle, twinkle superstar,

We don’t wonder where you are.

Up above the world so bright,

Like a diamond in the night.

Twinkle, twinkle, she stood alone.

I can’t believe that she’s gone.”

Aretha will sing at Houston’s funeral tomorrow, Saturday, in Newark, N.J.