Singers, pastors and presidents join the epic farewell to Queen of Soul

Jeff Karoub, The Associated Press

Published Friday, August 31, 2018 15:29 EDT

Last updated on Friday, 31 August 2018 10:47 PM EDT

DETROIT – Former presidents and pastors participated Friday in a parade of pop stars in a singing, hip-waving, piano-pounding farewell to Aretha Franklin, commemorating the Queen of the Soul as a powerful force for musical and political change and a steadfast friend.

"Aretha's vocals challenged the dangling dissonances of hatred and lies and racism and injustice," said the preacher William J. Barber II. "Her singing was revelation and was a revolution."

In a broadcast, both grand and personal, an all-star line-up of mourners filled the same Detroit church that organized the funeral of Rosa Parks and offered prayers, songs and dozens of tributes. Guests included former president Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.

Robinson, the great Motown, remembered hearing Franklin play piano for the first time when he was only 8 and remained close to her for the rest of her life for hours at a time.

"You are so special," he said, before he sounded a few lines from his song "Really Gonna Miss You," with the line "will be really different without you".

Bill Clinton described himself as an Aretha Franklin & groupie & # 39 ;, who said that he loved her since her studies. He followed her life journey and praised her as someone who lived courageously, not without fear, but overcome her fears & # 39 ;.

He remembered that he was attending her last public performance, at Elton John's pay-benefit in November in New York. She looked "desperately ill," but managed to greet him by standing and saying, "How are you, darling?"

Clinton ended by noting that her career spanned from vinyl records to mobile phones. He held the microphone by his iPhone and played a fragment of Franklin's classic "Think", "the audience clapped."

"It is the key to freedom!" Clinton said.

The hour-long service in the Greater Grace Temple included many elements, emotions and royal entrances that characterized Franklin's more than six decades on sacred and secular stages. She was remembered as the pride of Detroit and as a citizen of the world.

Music magnate Clive Davis, who revived Franklin's career in the 1980s, described her as a loving friend and a devoted and unpredictable artist, whose passions varied from soul to ballet. He remembered coming to him in a tutu, dancing with "most impressive agility and dignity."

Ariana Grande sang one of the Queen's greatest hits, "(You Make Me Feel Like)," A Natural Woman, "and Faith Hill performed" What a Friend We Have In Jesus. " The Aretha Franklin Orchestra played a medley with "I Say a Little Prayer", "Angel" and other songs she was known for, along with the songs of the gospel as "I Love the Lord" and "Walk in the Light. "

Barbara Sampson read a statement by former President George W. Bush, in which he said that Franklin would continue to inspire future generations. Reverend Al Sharpton read a statement from former President Barack Obama who wrote that Franklin's work reflected the best of the American story. & # 39;

Sharpton received loud cheers when he criticized President Donald Trump for saying that the singer worked for him & # 39; while he responded to her death. & # 39; She played for you, & # 39; said Sharpton about Franklin, who had sung at locations in Trump. "She worked for us."

"She gave us pride and gave us a royal bar to reach, she represented the best in our community," Sharpton said.

Many saw her long-term commitment to civil rights and sustainable care for the poor.

Reverend Jesse Jackson urged those present to honor her memory by registering to vote. Her friend Greg Mathis, the award-winning reality show host and retired judge from Michigan, remembered his last conversation with her. They spoke about the contaminated water supply in Flint. "You go there and sock it to them", she insisted on Mathis, the "sock paraphrased it to me" and abstained from "respect".

Franklin died on August 16 at the age of 76.

Her body arrived in a cadillac from the Cadalla LaSalle in 1940. She wore a shimmering golden dress with sequined heels – the fourth outfit Franklin was dressed in during a week of events that preceded her funeral.

The coffin was carried to the church, which was also the father of Franklin, the famous minister C.L. Franklin, to his and Parks & # 39; last resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the singer will join them. Pink Cadillacs filled the street outside the church, a reference to a Franklin hit from the eighties, Freeway of Love & # 39;

The program coverage showed a young Franklin, with a slight smile and sunglasses on her nose, and the title A Celebration Fit For The Queen & # 39 ;. Large bouquets of pink, lavender, yellow and white flowers flanked her coffin.

Flower arrangements by singers such as Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and from the family of the late Otis Redding, whose "Respect" transformed Franklin and made her distinctive song, were set up in a corridor outside the sanctuary.

Detroit is planning to honor one of its most famous inhabitants. During the service, Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the city would rename the Chene Park amphitheater on the riverfront to Aretha Franklin Park & ​​# 39 ;.

Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace knew the bold guest list, but he had a higher mission in mind.

"It is my goal and my goal to ensure that people leave here with a kind of spiritual awakening," Ellis said. "This is not a concert, this is not a show, this is not a price production, this is a real life that has lived, that a person is no matter how famous she became, no matter how many people she has touched around the world, she still could do not escape death. "

Relatives, including granddaughter Victorie Franklin and niece Cristal Franklin, spoke with awe and affection when they remembered a world-famous artist who also loved gossip and loved photos of loved ones on her piano.

Grandson Jordan sent his comments directly to Franklin, often stopping to fight the tears.

"I am sad today because I am losing my friend, but I know that the stamp she has left on this world can never be removed, you have shown the world of God's love and there is nothing honorable."


Associated Press writers Josh Replogle, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.

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