Aretha Franklin is no doubt feeling like a Natural Woman with her new look. Fresh images reveal the iconic soul singer's dramatic weight loss as well as a new hairstyle, meaning she will close her retirement tour in style.
The 75-year-old music legend is currently performing her final shows across North America before bowing out from the stage after more than 60 years as soul's most treasured darling. In one photo shared on Upscale Magazine's Instagram account, Franklin is seen posing in a dressing room backstage at one of her recent shows with a male fan.
Although she is sitting down, the queen of soul has clearly shed several pounds with her arms, legs and waist looking much slimmer than they were a year ago. Showing off her new hairstyle, Franklin has ditched the black cropped 'do she typically sports in favour of a sleek brunette long bob with a centre part.
Another photo from Franklin's show at the Wolf Trap National Park in Washington D.C. also highlights the musician's trimmer figure although she was still wrapped up in her trademark fur coat.
Fans are lapping up the opportunity to catch Franklin on-stage this summer after the Respect hitmaker announced her retirement in February. Speaking to Detroit's WDIV Local 4, Franklin said: "I must tell you, I'm retiring this year. I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it. This is what I've done all of my life. I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now."
Fortunately, Franklin will still release new music including a "multi-directional" album co-written and produced by Motown legend Stevie Wonder. In her retirement announcement, Franklin added: "We're not pigeonholed to any one thing. Of course, several of the songs are going to be produced by Stevie [Wonder]. There's only one Stevie, right?"
Franklin has battled various undisclosed health issues over the years. In 2011, the I Say A Little Prayer singer detailed her ambitions to drop the weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Franklin told Jet magazine at the time: "By my birthday I will be a [size] 16 – that's my birthday wish. And I just want to continue my super maintained health. I look wonderful to myself at [a US] size 14 or 16. But 16 is OK, too. I will rest my case at 16. I go to the healthier foods that are less chemically treated.
"I am drinking lots of water to get rid of the toxins in my body. It's a natural flushing. Water flushes your system and is also very good for your skin. I used to have hamburgers coming and going, especially when I was on the road. Now, occasionally I will still have that quarter pounder because I love fast food, but you have to keep it to a minimum. I am now opting for salads and just healthier lunches."
Franklin has four dates left on the retirement tour with shows scheduled for Indiana and Philadelphia before wrapping up in Illinois on 3 September. The singer also has a performance set for the Toronto Jazz Festival in Canada on 28 June 2018.