Franklin, 69, recently announced her engagement to Wilkerson, but she did not offer many details as to who he is.
"To find a guy who can deal with the female who has much attention, fame and fortune -- I think he passed the test," Greg Dunmore, a Franklin family friend, told The Detroit Free Press.
"She knows she can really confide in him. These are things that anybody wants in a relationship, but certainly with somebody as well-known and wealthy as Aretha, those qualities of loyalty and friendship take on even greater value."
The newspaper said the Detroit couple, who plan to marry this summer, were previously engaged in 1987, but they called off their plans and remained close friends for all these years.