Detroit Free Press staff
Published 7:36 p.m. UTC Aug 31, 2018
A weeklong celebration of the life of the Queen of Soul ends today as Detroit and the world say a final goodbye to Aretha Franklin. Freep.com will carry a live stream here from before the service through the procession.
3:25 p.m.: The Rev. Jesse Jackson takes the pulpit to a standing ovation.
After thanking by name many who were around Franklin, Jackson urged the crowd to make their voices heard: “I was here for the Rosa parks funeral and watched long lines for the museum for Rosa Parks. Long lines for Aretha. Long lines today … Long lines for the death of the icons and short lines for voting. something is missing.”
During Franklin’s final Detroit show last year, Jackson was there, never more than a few feet away. As the Free Press’ Brian McCollum reported earlier this month, between the heat and Franklin’s health it was unclear if the show would take place. Franklin had requested that Jackson be there. And it was clear that Jackson’s presence strengthened Franklin to deliver her adoring crowd one last show.
A spiritual guide for Franklin, Jackson
3:17 p.m.: Ron Isley offers his memories of Franklin.
Isely, lead singer and last surviving member of the Isley Brothers (“Shout!” and “It’s Your Thing”), was a frequent guest at her concerts. He described Franklin as “my best friend,” during a 2010 interview with Vibe magazine.
The soft-spoken Isley then broke in to a sweet and soulful “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
3:05 p.m.: Chaka Khan has taken the stage, singing “Going up Yonder,” and has the crowd on their feet. Khan carried a blue fan that matched her dress and long jacket. The fan appeared to have the song’s lyrics on it. But no matter, Khan brought the funk and has the crowd moving.
Chaka Khan’s presence at Franklin’s funeral shows just how much Franklin influenced the people who would go on to become legendary contributors to music. Kahn called Franklin “my Mentor, my True Friend,” in a Twitter tribute the day Franklin passed.
2:54 p.m.: The Rev. Donald L. Parsons takes the stage.
The Rev. Donald Parsons, Chicago minister said of Franklin’s fear of flying: “She’s lost her fear of flying today. … She’s no longer with the departed; she’s now part of the arrived.”
2:50 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Southfield, takes the stage.
She remembers her first call from the Queen of Soul when she was elected mayor of Southfield. “She would always tell me how proud she was of me,” Lawrence told Channel 7 the day Franklin died.
“She never gave up,” Lawrence now tells the audience. “She stood up. She had dignity. … I am so proud to have known and to have shared my life with the amazing Queen.”
Lawrence says Robert Kennedy, Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington are some of the previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal.
“The Queen deserves this Gold Medal and I’m honored to give it to her.”
2:46 p.m.: The Rev. Jim Holley, who just took the stage, has served as pastor at the Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church along Woodward in the city’s North End since 1972. Holley spoke to Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley about Franklin’s role in the civil rights movement: “She used her talent and what God gave her to basically move the race forward. A lot of people do the talking but they don’t do the walking. She used her talent and her resources. She was that kind of person, a giving person.”
2:37 p.m.: Judge Greg Mathis takes the stage. The Detroit native is best known for his television show “Judge Mathis.”
He says his last conversation with Franklin was about the Flint water crisis. Franklin urged him not to stop fighting for the people of Flint.
“Her last words were taken from the greatest song she’s performed. And somehow it made me feel that she respected me. Because the words she gave, when I told her ‘OK, I’ll go back up there.’ She said, ‘Yeah, Greg, you go back up there and you sock it to ‘em!”
“So in honor of my sister, I’m going to Flint and I’m going to sock it to ’em! Sock it to ‘em! Sock it to ’em!”
2:35 p.m.: Bill and Hillary Clinton just left together. He headed to her seat during Shirley Caesar’s performance, then they exited when it was done.
2:27 p.m.: Gospel singer Shirley Caesar takes the stage, segueing from remarks into a spirited rendition of “How I Got Over.” Joining Caesar is Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, a gospel singer from Georgia who sings on the Motown Gospel label.
Caesar credited the start of her career to the Franklin family. It was the Rev. C.L. Franklin who called Caesar’s mother to ask her permission for her to travel to sing. “Our history started right there,” Caesar told Channel 4 this morning.
2:19 p.m.: Vocalist Audrey DuBois Harris performs an operatic version of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
Harris has followed Franklin’s path of lending her voice to the modern civil rights movement, performing for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis and at a recent remembrance of the “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama.
2:17 p.m.: Most of today’s speakers have been allotted 5 minutes. Clinton is currently clocking in at 12 minutes. He takes the liberty of cutting himself off by playing Franklin’s “Think” on his smartphone into the microphone.
2:09 p.m.: Bill Clinton offers his remembrance of Franklin. “She lived with courage,” he says. “Not without fear, but overcoming her fears. She lived with faith. Not without failure, but overcoming her failures. She lived with power. Not without weakness, but overcoming her weaknesses. I just loved her.”
Clinton recalls seeing Franklin last year at an Elton John AIDS fund-raiser: “She stood right up and said, ‘How you doing, baby?’ I said, ‘I’m doing better now.’ She said: ‘Look at me. I got thin again.’ “
2:05 p.m.: Bishop Ellis introduces former President Bill Clinton as “the first black President of the United States.”
Clinton awarded Franklin the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities award in 1999. Franklin was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors during the Clinton administration. She also performed during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner during the Clinton years.
1:59 p.m.: U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., takes the stage, referring to herself as “Aretha Franklin’s senator.”
“America is big. America is bold. And nobody had a bigger voice or a bolder soul than our Aretha.”
Stabenow says a bipartisan group of lawmakers intends to award Franklin a Congressional Gold Medal.
She recalls Aretha’s last Detroit concert. Read the dramatic behind-the-scenes story of that concert, which almost never happened, here:
Aretha’s final Detroit show: Illness, intrigue, last-minute misgivings
1:54 p.m.: Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder takes the stage.
“I cannot ignore the sadness that I feel in saying goodbye to a woman I was privileged to know and who I long admired before I ever had a chance to meet her.”
Franklin sang “America” at Holder’s farewell ceremony when he resigned his post as the nation’s top lawyer.
“Her voice became universal for all people,” Holder said. “She moved us in ways no artist has before or since.”
“Her status as a Queen, unlike others who inherit that title – her title was earned. It has been said that hers was a once in a lifetime voice. That is simply not true. Her gift was almost otherworldly. … She made this country both more sensitive and more just.”
1:48 p.m.: Stevie Wonder is spotted entering the church through a back door with a police escort.
1:47 p.m.: Bishop Marvin Sapp takes the stage to perform his song “Perfect Peace” with the choir. Sapp is the senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids. He is singing today with the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir. The choir is made up of members of churches from across the city, including Franklin’s home church New Bethel Baptist Church. This choir has been honoring Franklin all week, including a tribute on Monday. Read more about that here:
Hundreds gather at Aretha Franklin’s church for gospel choir tribute
1:41 p.m.: Detroit native Alice McAllister Tillman, an accomplished gospel and classical vocalist, performs a lilting version of “Ave Maria” with harp accompaniment.
1:29 p.m.: Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, reads her aunt’s obituary.
The Queen of Soul was the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She won 18 Grammy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Free Press’ Aretha Franklin obituary can be read here:
Aretha Franklin dies at 76: Detroit star transformed American music
1:26 p.m.: The Queen of Soul’s son Edward Franklin performs a musical tribute to his mother, a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me.”
1:14 p.m.: Vaughn, Cristal, Victorie and Jordan Franklin take the stage.
Victorie recalls what it was like to be the Queen of Soul’s granddaughter.
“To know that she is a part of who I am, there’s nothing like that,” she says. “I love you Grandma, and I will make you proud.”
Franklin’s grandson Jordan thanks his grandmother for demonstrating the right way to handle success. “Her imprint on the world can never be removed. … Long live the Queen.”
Niece Cristal Franklin says: ”To the world, she was the Queen of Soul. But to me, she was just my aunt.” She recalls when Franklin sang at her high-school graduation and took her to see Disney on Ice.
“After every award ceremony, she was my gossip girl. … I just want to say to everyone sitting here and everyone watching in the world, thank you.”
Nephew Vaughn Franklin calls his aunt Aretha the matriarch and the pillar of the Franklin family. “When I was with my auntie in July at her apartment in downtown Detroit, she and I were talking and she paused for a moment in the middle of a conversation and asked, ‘Frankie, what do you think?’ I knew what she was talking about, but how do you find the words to tell someone that you love so much that you could see her health and her physical stature declining so much each time you saw her. At that moment, I knew and understood that she was aware that her final days were near.”
“We’re not saying ‘goodbye,’ Auntie, but ‘farewell,’ until we see you again in our final resting place.”
1:13 p.m.: Bishop Ellis tells the crowd not to lose sight of the fact that beyond her musical accomplishments, Franklin was also “a real mother, a real grandmother, a real aunt.”
1:12 p.m.: Bishop Ellis asks the members of Congress in attendance to stand and be recognized, as well as the cast of Tyler Perry’s television show “The Haves and the Have Nots”.
1:08 p.m.: The crowd is on its feet praise-dancing as the band gets into the spirit.
12:58 p.m.: The Williams Brothers and Vanessa Bell Armstrong take the stage to perform.
This performance is another who’s who in the gospel world. The Williams Brothers join Detroit native Vanessa Bell Armstrong, who started singing in church at a young age. Malaco Records, in Armstrong’s bio, notes that she sang Franklin songs in talent shows as a teenager but she lost every one. Malaco quotes Armstrong as saying: “I thought I was Aretha. I guess the Lord knew that if I had gotten any recognition for singing that stuff, I probably would have tried to sing that, but that’s not what He chose for me to do.”
12:54 p.m.: Barbara Sampson takes the stage to read a letter from former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush.
“Laura and I are deeply saddened,” the letter says. “Aretha was a woman of achievement. … She made an important and lasting contribution … and in 2005, it was my privilege to honor her with our country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I am glad to have met Aretha. … May the Almighty comfort you in your grief and sustain you in this difficult time.”
Sampson is reading a list of acknowledgments and thanks to people on behalf of Franklin’s family.
12:48 p.m.: The Clark Sisters take the stage. The legendary Detroit-based gospel group performs its song, “Is My Living In Vain?”.
Bill Clinton stands behind them with a look of amazement on his face.
12:47 p.m.: Bishop Ellis introduces the next performers: “Come on, Detroit’s own, the Clark Sisters. Northwest Detroit. Sorrento. Aretha Franklin lived on Sorrento. Long before blacks could live in Grosse Pointe, and Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham. We couldn’t go out of town but we could go on Outer Drive.”
12:46 p.m.: Robinson breaks into an a capella version of his song, “Really Gonna Miss You.”
12:41 p.m.: Smokey Robinson takes the stage to address the crowd. “Now one of my longest friends has gone home,” Robinson says. “I didn’t know that it would be this soon that I would have to say farewell to you. … We talked about it many times, that we were the only two left, out of all our friends. … I know you’re up there, celebrating with your family.”
The legendary Motown artist was one of Franklin’s childhood friends and the two remained close throughout their lives. Good friends with Franklin’s brother, Cecil, Robinson described first meeting Franklin when Cecil brought him to see their new house, he told Gayle King on the CBS show “This Morning.”
As they’re walking through Franklin’s home, he says, “I hear this little voice and a piano playing in this room. … I peek in and there’s Aretha sitting at the piano playing and singing almost like she did as an adult. And she was probably only about 5 years old.”
12:38 p.m.: Sharpton announces he’s been asked to read a letter from the Obamas. “We join you in celebrating the life of the Queen of Soul,” the letter says.
12:30 p.m.: The Rev. Al Sharpton takes the stage.
“She represented the best of our community and she fought for our community until the end,” Sharpton says.
“We don’t all agree on everything, but we agree on Aretha. She fought for everybody.”
Sharpton calls Franklin the soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement.
“The other Sunday on my show, I misspelled respect. And a lot of you all corrected me. And now I want you to help me correct President Trump to teach him what it means.”
He references Trump’s memorial comments about Franklin working for him.
“No,” Sharpton says. “She performed for you. She worked for us.”
12:29 p.m.: Bishop Ellis quips that when he saw Grande’s name on the schedule he thought it was a new item at Taco Bell.
12:25 p.m.: Ariana Grande performs “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
12:20 p.m.: Gov. Rick Snyder addresses the crowd, with notable emotion in his voice.
“She took the challenge and the tragedies and brought a special humanity to her voice and her music that other musicians can only dream to have.”
He accidentally calls her “The King of Soul” toward the end of his remarks.
12:17 p.m.: Former Detroit City Councilmember JoAnn Watson, a longtime friend of Aretha Franklin’s who was reportedly by her side when the Queen of Soul died Aug. 16, speaks now.
“She was the world’s queen … the epitome of the authenticity of the city of Detroit.”
12:13 p.m.: Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones announces her support for renaming Chene Park.
12:05 p.m.: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan addresses the crowd.
“When Aretha Franklin sang, it sounded like the voice of Detroit.”
Duggan announces that he is proposing to rename Chene Park after Franklin.
“When performers from generations to come perform here, they will be reminded that they are performing in the home of the Queen of Soul,” Duggan said. “God bless you.”
“And the mayor just got re-elected!” quipped Bishop Ellis.
12:03 p.m.: Pastor Robert Smith Jr. of New Bethel Baptist Church addresses the crowd. He is co-officiating the ceremony with Bishop Charles Ellis III.
11:59 a.m.: Recording artist Faith Hill sings “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Faith Hill and Aretha Franklin recorded a duet for the Queen of Soul’s 36th studio album, 2011’s “A Woman Falling Out of Love,” but the track didn’t make the final cut. Hill and husband Tim McGraw have recently been incorporating another duet, the Franklin and George Michael song, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” into their live show. On the day of Franklin’s death, Hill tweeted that “the choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus.”
11:55 a.m.: Bishop P.A. Brooks reads the 139th Psalm. According to the Detroit News, Brooks — a longtime leader in the local faith community and the second-in-command of the largest African-American Christian denomination in the country — keeps a photo in his office depicting a meeting between Aretha Franklin, Jesse Jackson, Coleman Young and former Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard. Like the Queen of Soul, Brooks is also an inductee to the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
11:54 a.m.: Speaking now, Pastor Solomon Kinloch, w began his ministry at age 14 at New Bethel Baptist Church before transforming the once modest Triumph Church into a spiritual powerhouse with multiple locations around metro Detroit.
11:48 a.m.: Now addressing the crowd, Bishop T.D. Jakes traveled from Dallas. He’s the head of The Potter’s House church there. He told Fox 4 News in Dallas that during President Obama’s inauguration, she sat behind Franklin as she sang. He told the station: “She always had such class and dignity,” Jakes said. “She never liked singing in cold weather. It was really cold out there that day, but she is Aretha Franklin. And she’s in a class all by herself.”
11:42 a.m.: Dr. E.L. Branch, senior pastor of Detroit’s Third New Hope Baptist Church, delivers the prayer of comfort. In 1976, Branch became associate minister of New Bethel Baptist Church under Aretha Franklin’s father, the late Rev. C.L. Franklin, according to Third New Hope’s website.
11:37 a.m.: Greater Grace Temple Pastor Charles Ellis is now addressing the crowd. “We have plenty of programs today,” he tells attendees. “Some of them are going to end up on eBay.”
“It’s taken some time to get in here, but I believe the Queen wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He asks the speakers to keep their remarks short and warns attendees that it will be a lengthy service. “We will do our best not to waste time, but we are going to take the necessary time to honor this great woman of God.”
11:29 a.m.: Franklin’s casket is closed for the last time.
11:25 a.m.: Family and friends continue to file into the sanctuary at Greater Grace Temple to pay their last respects to the Queen of Soul. Members of the public appear to be trickling in, too, as seats in the back begin to fill in.
11:17 a.m.: Throughout Aretha Franklin’s life, her faith was a central part of her identity, influencing and guiding her journey to stardom. Read more about how Franklin’s funeral is putting the Baptist tradition on display in Detroit.
11:04 a.m.: Check out the full list of celebrities that have been spotted at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.
10:54 a.m.: The Queen of Soul’s family is entering the sanctuary to the choir singing “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood.
10:47 a.m.: The prelude has begun with a procession by the Detroit Police Department Honor Guard. Attendees are still filing into the church. The Franklin family appears to be waiting outside the sanctuary.
10:42 a.m.: The Aretha Franklin Orchestra has begun singing, about 50 minutes behind schedule.
10:37 a.m.: Smokey Robinson is spotted making his way into the church.
10:34 a.m.: Franklin topped Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
For that list, Rolling Stone tapped Mary J. Blige to describe why Franklin was the greatest.
“You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made,” Blige wrote. “And Aretha is a gift from God.”
10:26 a.m.: Earlier in the week, Greater Grace Temple Bishop Charles Ellis spoke to the Free Press about officiating Franklin’s funeral.
Ellis said he wants people leaving in a reflective mode upon leaving the ceremony. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter how famous you are, at the end of the day, all of us are going to be in a box,” he said.
10:20 a.m.: The service appears to be running late as attendees just now begin to slowly take their seats.
10:15 a.m.: Franklin wore red on Tuesday, powder blue on Wednesday, rose gold on Thursday and gold lamé today.
10:03 a.m.: Actress Whoopi Goldberg, actor and producer Tyler Perry and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., are all in attendance.
9:48 a.m.: Despite news earlier this week that Barack and Michelle Obama would not be attending Franklin’s funeral, rumors swirled this morning of their impending arrival. A spokesperson for the former first family dispelled those rumors and confirmed again this morning that the Obamas will not be attending. Former President Bill Clinton, however, will be speaking at the funeral and has just arrived with wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
9:36 a.m.: “It is our way to say thank you to a person who cares deeply about Detroit. She showed her love by the great things she did to help this city,” said former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who arrived with his wife, retired 36th District Court Judge Trudy Archer.
9:26 a.m.: Doors to the sanctuary opened about 8 a.m., welcoming business and political leaders, athletes and others from around the country. Among them were pop superstar Ariana Grande, boxer Tommy Hearns, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, sports commentator and former NBA star Greg Kelser, Judge Greg Mathis, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. Several gospel superstars including Dr. Bobby Jones, Bishop Paul Morton, Ricky Dillard and Dottie Peoples also arrived.
The Rev. Jessie Jackson and radio host and former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, one of Franklin’s closest friends, arrived around 8:50 a.m.
9:19 a.m.: The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor emeritus of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, will eulogize Aretha Franklin as requested by the Queen of Soul herself.
Asked how he would prepare, he told CBS 46 anchor Karyn Greer: “Anybody out there who’s listening to me that knows anything about praying, if you would just ask God to give me the words, the wisdom, the knowledge and, above all, the understanding to be able to give her justice at that pulpit when I try to eulogize her.”
9:16 a.m.: “Respect” played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace this morning in the Queen of Soul’s honor.
9:01 a.m.: A must-read for every Aretha Franklin fan (and frankly, every music fan) is Kelley L. Carter’s 2007 article that reveals the backstory of “Respect.”
Carter, then a Free Press writer, takes you behind the scenes of the recording of the hit song. Here’s a nugget of the story where producer Jerry Wexler describes how recording the song came about.
“Wexler said it was Franklin who brought the song to him, wanting to record it. He said she ultimately produced the track — like she did on about 60 percent of the material they worked on together — with her sister Carolyn Franklin doing the vocal arrangements.
“Wexler was amazed at Aretha’s handiwork. She’d done most of the arranging of the song long before she got to the studio, funking up the chords and figuring out how the rhythm would be laid down.”
More: Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’: How sassy song became anthem for an era
8:58 a.m.: As U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell arrived, she recalled her and her husband’s long history with the Queen of Soul.
“John Dingell knew Aretha’s father and Aretha when she was a baby,” Dingell said. “She was always so good to me.”
8:45 a.m.: Glynda Curry of Detroit, whose sister played tambourine for Franklin for 25 years, entered the church expecting an uplifting ceremony that could set a new standard for resplendent farewells.
“It’s setting a precedent for future artists,” said Curry.
8:36 a.m.: Legendary Detroit boxer Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns is attending Franklin’s funeral today. If you didn’t know, Aretha Franklin was a lifelong boxing fan.
8:26 a.m.: Did you see this full-page Cadillac ad in today’s Free Press honoring the Queen of Soul?
8:17 a.m.: Franklin’s body arrived earlier this morning in a white 1940 LaSalle hearse.
Here’s more about the hearse, as reported in the Free Press earlier this week:
“The vintage two-door, three-speed LaSalle made by Cadillac is the same vehicle used to carry the Rev. C.L. Franklin, father of the Queen of Soul, in 1984; David Ruffin, baritone for the Temptations, in 1991, and Rosa Parks, civil rights icon, in 2005.”
8:10 a.m.: The casket arrived about 7:30 a.m. Bishop David Ellis III and Franklin’s pastor, the Rev. Robert Smith Jr., led a solemn procession into the church.
Nurses in white, ushers, other church workers and volunteers lined both sides of the foyer as the casket was taken inside by the staff of Swanson Funeral Home.
Franklin will be buried in a 24-karat gold-plated Promethean casket made of solid bronze. The interior is finished with champagne velvet. Franklin’s title, “Queen of Soul,” and her name, “Aretha Franklin,” are embroidered into the casket’s interior with gold metallic thread.
More: Aretha Franklin’s Promethean casket made of bronze, not solid gold
7:59 a.m.: Network news teams from NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News are on platforms on 7 Mile facing the church’s side entrance, next to setups for local news outlets.
NBC News reporter Ron Mott is here doing live segments for “Today” and MSNBC. “For a big event like this, this is the typical size,” said Mott of the large media presence. “It fits the magnitude of the event.”
7:46 a.m.: Earlier this morning people squabbled over who was first in line.
“It’s supposed to be (the front of the line), but people are coming from the back of the line. That’s why there’s the turmoil,” said Kimberly Gale of Detroit, who had been in line since 6 p.m. Thursday.
A police sergeant on the scene urged the crowd of people at the front to cooperate.
“You’re not going to get in the church unless you do what we ask you to do,” he said.
Gale said she was No. 10 in line. “I want to honor the memory of the Queen of Soul. Even though we weren’t blood relatives, I feel like she’s my family.”
7:36 a.m.: Police officers with dogs went through the church about 7 a.m. Shortly thereafter, nurses, musicians and some VIPs entered the church through its main entrance.
Among them was Elaine Steele, the longtime spokesperson for Rosa Parks. She said Franklin was extremely supportive of Parks. “She just had a beautiful heart.”
“She was the greatest. She didn’t belong just to us, but she was from us,” Steele said. “We held our heads high and stuck our chests out wide because of her genius and her willingness to share it.”
6:42 a.m.: Huge lines formed very early Friday morning outside Greater Grace Temple for today’s funeral. Most mourners came dressed in church clothes and carrying folding chairs.
People who lined up last night for an early spot in line found themselves stuck in the middle of line after police forced the crowd to reorganize from a residential street to 7 Mile.
“I was here since 8:30 last night. We were right here, and they pushed us to the back,” said Debra Demmings, 63, of Minneapolis.
Late Thursday: Former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Motown legend Smokey Robinson and Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas are among the speakers scheduled for Franklin’s funeral.
Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Faith Hill, Chaka Khan and Jennifer Holliday are among the musical performers expected at the service.
In addition to invited guests, about 1,000 members of the public will be able to attend the service, organizers announced.
More on Aretha Franklin:
Aretha Franklin dressed in rose gold for final viewing at church
Aretha Franklin’s funeral puts Baptist tradition on display in Detroit
Grace, pressure for bishop officiating Aretha Franklin’s funeral
Aretha Franklin quotes: The Queen of Soul in her own words
The Free Press reporting team on site includes Aleanna Siacon, Omar Abdel-Baqui, Brian McCollum, Cassandra Spratling, Rochelle Riley, Julie Hinds, Nicole Avery and JC Reindl.
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