STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY – Piano prodigy and soul singer Aretha Franklin died Thursday of advanced pancreatic cancer. America is mourning the loss of the 76-year-old legend, and that includes her former publicist who lives in the Poconos.
In the late 1980’s, Dr. LaJoyce Brookshire worked as a writer and producer in New York City. One day she was invited to a last-minute lunch and unexpectedly met Aretha Franklin.
“She was warm and welcoming and motherly, but regal,” Dr. LaJoyce Brookshire of Bushkill recalls.
Three years later, Brookshire became Director of Publicity for Arista Records.
“So then I was on the team of people who would do things with her [Franklin] and for her,” Dr. Brookshire explains.
One night at an event, Brookshire accidently spilled champagne on the floor as Franklin walked by.
She recalls, “she [Franklin] stepped back just in time. I grabbed her hand, grabbed her gown, held it up and helped her step over. I snapped for the waiter and ushered her to another table.”
Brookshire thought she made a horrible impression; but it was quite the opposite.
The next day, Franklin asked Brookshire to be her publicist. “And I’m like, after what happened last night?” she laughs.
From there, the bond grew.
“It was very intense work during those times working for her and working for Arista Records. Ms. Aretha demanded excellence, and excellence is what she deserved,” she smiles.
Brookshire served as Franklin’s publicist from 1994 to 1997. She’d commute between her home in Bushkill and New York.
They last saw each other three years ago. Brookshire heard about Franklin’s death on the radio.
She adds, “the moment someone you care about dies, it still feels like a karate kick to the stomach. I will remember her, undeniably, as the queen.”
The ‘Queen of Soul’ who had so much soul to give.
Today, Brookshire is a holistic doctor, speaker and author. She hopes to attend Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit, which is reportedly set for August 31st.