Mourners say farewell to Aretha Franklin, star who touched souls

Pablo Martinez Monsivais  AP FILE

Greater Grace Pastor Charles Ellis III began by asking speakers and performers to do their best to stick to the five-minute spots allotted for majority.

Over a hundred pink Cadillacs will line the route to Aretha Franklin's funeral and stand honor guard along Seven Mile outside of the church.

Organizers told CNN the service was to touch on Franklin's significance to her friends, family and fans.

Stevie Wonder performed a virtuoso harmonica solo and a rendition of his hit "I'll Be Loving You Always". The secret of her greatness was she took her massive talent, and this ideal life that raised her, and she became the composer of her own song.

"Nothing sounded better to me than the way my grandma sings", she said. "In the example she set both as an artist and a citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation".

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced during the service that the city would rename the riverfront amphitheater Chene Park to "Aretha Franklin Park". "Bless her heart", tweeted one, Tenisha Taylor Bell. "I love her. She was my longest friend".

Her coffin is to be entombed in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery near the remains of her father; her brother, Cecil Franklin; and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma Franklin.

"Accompanied by her fiance Pete Davidson, Grande traveled to Detroit to attend the ceremony and perform one of Franklin's signature hits, "(You Make Me Feel Like) "A Natural Woman," which she previously sang on the "Tonight Show" on August 16 shortly after Franklin's death.

The music legend's granddaughter and other loved ones shared personal memories of her, most of which centered around her generosity and ability to make everyone feel like they were her "favorite". "It just didn't seem to be something she got around to", Don Wilson, Franklin's longtime lawyer, told the Associated Press. "I love you and you are so strong @ArianaGrande".

Actress Cicely Tyson reworked the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem "When Malindy Sings" to "When Aretha Sings".

Former president Bill Clinton joked that he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were "Aretha groupies".

Aretha, a figurehead for the civil rights movement, also performed at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, but the politician and his wife Michelle Obama are unable to attend the funeral today. "She was about working with Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton".

TSIOULCAS: Robinson sang "Really Gonna Miss You" cappella, his voice sweetly piping out alone across the hushed church. Williams' eulogy was met with a mixed reception, with some people showing support but others seeming to think he was off-topic.

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