Now Playing loading...

Aretha Franklin’s nine-hour Celebration of Life service: Music, laughter and tears


ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty ImagesAretha Franklin‘s life was celebrated Friday in Detroit during a service that went on for a whopping nine hours, and featured star-studded musical performances, family, friends, distinguished guests, laughter and tears.

The gold-plated casket carrying the Queen of Soul arrived at the church in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse — the same one that transported the bodies of both her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, and civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks. More than 100 pink Cadillacs were lined up on Detroit’s 7 Mile Road, as a nod to her hit “Freeway of Love” — in it, she sang about riding in “my pink Cadillac.”

During the homegoing service at the Greater Grace Temple, mourners heard from such speakers as former President Bill Clinton, who described himself and wife Hillary as Aretha Franklin “groupies,” and joked that he was glad the casket was open when he arrived so he could see “why my friend is wearing.”  For the record, she was wearing a golden gown and sequinned heels.

Speakers also included Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who announced that he plans to propose that the city’s Chene Park be renamed Aretha Franklin Park. 

He wasn’t the only one suggesting a memorial on that scale.  Former Detroit city councilwoman Rev. JoAnn Watson told the crowd, “I believe that the federal government would do well to have a postage stamp honoring our queen Aretha Franklin…Honor Aretha in the same way she always honored us.”  The crowd went wild at the suggestion, and so did Twitter.

Other speakers included former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Judge Greg Mathis, the Rev. Al Shapton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, record executive Clive Davis, Aretha’s childhood friend Smokey Robinson and NBA star Isiah Thomas.

Members of Aretha’s family, including her son Edward, grandson Jordan, granddaughter Victorie and niece Cristal, also spoke.

As for musical performances, there were many.  Here’s a rundown:

Faith Hill — “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
Ariana Grande — “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”
Pastor Shirley Caesar & Tasha Cobbs-Leonard — “How I Got Over”
The Clark Sisters — “Is My Living in Vain”
Ron Isley — “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”
Chaka Khan — “Going Up Yonder”
Fantasia — “Precious Lord, Take My Hand/You’ve Got a Friend”
Yolanda Adams and Bishop Paul Morton — “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”
Jennifer Hudson — “Amazing Grace”
Gladys Knight — “You’ll Never Walk Alone”/”Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Stevie Wonder — “As”
Jennifer Holliday & The Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir — “Climbing Higher Mountains”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.