By Joanne Rosa
The public said their final farewell to Aretha Franklin today in a nearly six-hour funeral service. Aretha died at age 76 earlier this month after battling pancreatic cancer.
Leading up to the final service, pubic visitation was held on Tuesday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History. Additional visitation was held on Thursday, August 30 at the New Bethel Baptist Church where Aretha recorded her first album, as well as a tribute concert at Chene Park.
Aretha Franklin’s last ride was in a stylish, historic, and meaningful 1940 Cadillac LaSalle. The ivory hearse with chrome detail is the same one that carried Rosa Parks to her final place of rest in 2005, and Aretha’s father Rev. C.L. Franklin in 1984.
“Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice.”
The Queen of Soul’s funeral was filled with friends and family at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, as well as a fair share of celebrities. Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, The Clark Sisters, Chaka Khan, Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, Jennifer Hudson, and Stevie Wonder all performed musical tributes. Whoopi Goldberg, Tyler Perry, Gladys Knight, Pete Davidson, Omarosa, Jennifer Lewis, Big Sean, Bevy Smith, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Bevy Smith, and Jennifer Holiday were also seen paying their respects. Rev. Al Sharpton read a letter from former President Barack Obama, who was honored by Aretha through song during his inauguration.
“Dear friends and family of Aretha, Michelle and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to all of those who gathered in Detroit, and we join you in remembering and celebrating the life of the queen of soul.
From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice, whether bringing people together through thrilling intersections of genres or advancing important causes through the power of song, Aretha’s work reflected the very best of the American story. In all of its hope and heart, its boldness and its unmistakable beauty. In the example she set both as an artist and a citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation. While the music she made captured some of our deepest human desires, namely affection and respect, and through her voice, her own voice, Aretha lifted those of millions, empowering and inspiring the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and everyone who may have just needed a little love. Aretha truly was one of a kind, and as you pay tribute, know we’ll be saying a little prayer for you and we’ll be thinking of all of Aretha’s loved ones in the days and weeks to come.”
The polished bronze open casket was positioned in the center of the church with Aretha’s body dressed in gold from head to toe and red bottom shoes. The casket, made by Batesville Casket Company in Indiana, is the same model casket Michael Jackson’s laid to rest in. It was fitting to have the words “A Celebration Fit for the Queen” projected onto the wall.
In honor of Aretha’s legacy, mayor of Detroit Mike Duggan announced that Chene Park will be renamed: Aretha Franklin Park. He met with members of Detroit City Council who were in full support. A proposal will be sent to them on Tuesday.
Detroit and the world will miss the Queen of Soul, but we will love her forever.