RCA RecordsAretha Franklin is showing no signs of slowing down. Last month, her latest album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, entered the Billboard 200 at #13 — the highest debut on that chart since 1985. The legendary singer explained to Billboard what inspired her latest project.

“I love these songs,” Franklin says of the disc, which is devoted to cover versions of songs made famous by great female singers, everyone from Gladys Knight to Adele. “I listened to them all, by the original artists, for my own enjoyment. So making this record was a pleasure.”‘

Franklin also reveals that she has an appreciation for an artist like Alicia Keys, whose “No One” she covers on her new album and who she describes as “the girl of a thousand faces.”

“Her appearance is always changing, so you never get used to what she looks like,” notes the Queen of Soul. “She’s very stylized, but she has recorded some really great things.” She adds, “I especially like that old-school song she has, ‘You Don’t Know My Name,’ and of course that New York song [‘Empire State of Mind’]! I’m really glad she wrote that, because from time to time we need a new song for New York, for Detroit, for Chicago. And there really hadn’t been one since Liza Minnelli did ‘New York, New York,’ so that was very timely.”

Asked about other young artists, Aretha says feels that many are inspired by her timeless music. “I think they’re doing a very good job — Beyoncé, Alicia, Jennifer [Hudson]. I hear my influence sometimes; I know when my voice, when something I’m known for, has passed,” she says, adding, “These young ladies, for the most part, are all very original.”

Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics is available now.

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