Aretha Franklin added her voice Friday to the many mourning Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records co-founder who died Thursday at age 83 after a storied career that helped bring the music of Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, the Drifters, Wilson Pickett and other seminal black artists to mainstream success.
"Ahmet was a humanitarian. He loved music and he looked for what was inside people that made them special," said Franklin, who signed with Atlantic in 1962 and reached the zenith of her career there.
Atlantic Records made "legendary music" that helped bridge racial divides in America, Franklin said in an interview, and that may be Ertegun's greatest legacy.
Ertegun, who lapsed into a coma earlier this month after suffering head injuries in a fall in late October, will be buried Monday in his native Turkey in a private, family service.