DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 31, 2018) (BROADCAST: POOL VIA NBC) – A Detroit church swelled with gospel music on Friday (August 31) for the funeral of Aretha Franklin, driving mourners to their feet to clap and sing along with singers Faith Hill and Ariana Grande.
Franklin died on Aug. 16 at age 76.
Civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were onstage to honor Franklin’s contributions to the 1960s civil rights movement.
Franklin, who sang at the inaugurations of three Democratic presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – was an American institution. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Republican then-President George W. Bush in 2005. Tributes from Bush and Obama were read aloud.
Clinton entered the church with his wife, Hillary, to loud applause and stood quietly by Franklin’s open casket before the service started. Franklin’s body was dressed in a golden sequined outfit.
Franklin, who died at her Detroit home from pancreatic cancer, began her musical career as a child singing gospel at the city’s New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father, C.L. Franklin, was the pastor, famous for his hypnotic sermons.
The city has treated her death as the passing of royalty, with Franklin’s body laying in repose in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s grand rotunda for two days of public visitation earlier this week.
Mayor Mike Duggan announced at the service that he intended to have the city’s riverfront Chene Park renamed in Franklin’s honor.