DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 31, 2018) (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 ahead of tributes to the Queen of Soul by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and singer Stevie Wonder.
Clinton, who attended the funeral service with his wife Hillary Clinton, described himself as a Franklin “groupie” long before he became president. In his speech, he recalled attending Franklin’s last public performance in New York.
“I was there and she summoned me back and she’s sitting there I mean obviously desperately ill, gaunt, she stood right up and said ‘how you doing baby?.’ I said ‘well I’m doing better now,'” Clinton said, before closing his remarks by holding the microphone to his smartphone and playing Franklin’s 1968 hit “Think” over the church’s speakers.
“She had the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of a century,” Clinton said, describing himself as a Franklin “groupie” long before he became president. Closing his remarks, Clinton held the microphone to his smartphone and played Franklin’s 1968 hit “Think” over the church’s speakers.
Civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were also onstage to honor Franklin’s contributions to the 1960s civil rights movement.
Franklin was recalled as both an American institution, who sang at the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and as an aunt and grandmother, who took her young relatives shopping or to see Disney on Ice shows.
The city has treated her death as the passing of royalty, with Franklin’s body laying in repose in the grand rotunda of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for two days of public visitation earlier this week.