Aretha Franklin Denies Any Knowledge Of Outstanding Debts

Responding to a report in "The Detroit Free Press" thatclaimed she had been lax in paying off some $1 million in outstanding debts, therenowned R&B singer Aretha Franklin has now fired off an angry letter to thepress denying such allegations.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Franklin dismissed the "Free Press"article as a "malicious and vicious attempt to discredit me by reprinting old,warmed-over news that local people knew about 15 years ago to have a cumulativeeffect on the general public."

Franklin also pointed out that the report didn't list anyone who was currentlyowned money, and denied any knowledge of any pending lawsuits filed against herin the state of Michigan.

"I intended no malice, no disrespect and no lack of concern for the workingpeople and small businesses of Detroit," Franklin's statement read, "I have neverpurchased any goods or services without the intention of paying my bills in atimely and responsible manner."

Franklin, who has

sold an estimated 30 million albums since her first album,1956's "The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin," is nominated for a pair of 1999Grammy Awards for her most recent collection, "A Rose Is Still a Rose," as wellas its title track.