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OTRC: Aretha Franklin kicks off 2011 Grammys with pre-taped message

Aretha Franklin walks on the court with Jesse Jackson after the Detroit Pistons-Miami Heat NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Aretha Franklin made her first nationally televised appearance since she was hospitalized and had surgery last year for an unknown illness. The legendary singer appeared via a pre-taped message that aired during Sunday's Grammy Awards. Franklin, 68, appeared slightly slimmer.

"I wish that I could have been with you all tonight, but since I couldn't - next year, OK?" Franklin said in the taped message, according to The Associated Press.

Franklin was rumored to be suffering from pancreatic cancer but never confirmed reports. The 68-year-old "Queen of Soul" canceled all concerts and appearances from November through May 2011 by order of her doctors. She underwent surgery on December 2nd and said her "problem has been resolved."

The show's first 15 minutes were devoted to Franklin, who has won 18 Grammys during her career, and gathered stars like Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine and Martina McBride to perform a medley of some of the music legend's greatest hits.

"Aretha Franklin is, and always be, the Queen of Soul," presenter LL Cool J said. "Tonight, she's the queen of our hearts, too, and the queen of the Grammys."

"I LOVED it! The ladies all sounded so wonderful and they looked fabulous," Franklin wrote in an e-mailed statement to the wire service. "I enjoyed each and every performance, especially Yolanda doing 'Spirit in the Dark' and Christina's rendition of 'Ain't No Way."'

Franklin was photographed on Friday while she attended a Detroit Pistons game on with Reverend Jesse Jackson.

The singer revealed during halftime that she hopes to resume her public schedule in May and will probably start with a show at Radio City Music Hall. She was in good spirits, cheering on Dwyane Wade and visiting with the players.

"I'm feeling really great," Franklin told the Associated Press. "Loving the game, loving the game."

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