The funeral home in charge of the homegoing service for the late Aretha Franklin has announced that the Queen of Soul will don multiple outfits in true diva fashion.
Linda Swanson, executive vice president of Swanson Funeral Home, which is coordinating Franklin’s viewings and other services, said the Franklin family authorized her to reveal that the singing legend’s wardrobe will be swapped out in the days leading to her burial.
What she will be wearing is a ‘surprise,’ Swanson told the Detroit Free Press, but added that the clothing will be ‘Just natural changes in wardrobe that a queen would make.’
The Queen of Soul’s body arrived in a shining gold casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in her Detroit, Michigan, hometown on Tuesday morning for the start of her two-day public viewing.
Aretha Franklin’s body arrives in a gold casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in her Detroit, Michigan, hometown on Tuesday morning. Linda Swanson, executive vice president of Swanson Funeral Home, said that the Queen of Soul would be featured in many outfits
What she will be wearing is a ‘surprise,’ Swanson asserted, but added that the clothing will be ‘Just natural changes in wardrobe that a queen would make’
Franklin was transported to the museum in a vintage white Cadillac LaSalle, passing by as many as 200 of her fans who had slept on the sidewalk and were already lined up to be among the first to pay their respects to the singer.
The same Cadillac was used to transport her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, when he died in July 1984.
It was also used to transport Rosa Parks’ body when she died in 2005.
Fans lined up overnight to pay their respects to the late Aretha Franklin and got a glimpse of the legendary singer as she lay in her gleaming gold casket wearing a red cocktail dress and matching shiny red stilettos Tuesday.
The music icon died from advanced pancreatic cancer on August 16. She was 76.
Franklin’s body, seen in its shining gold casket, will be lying in state at the museum Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am to 9pm
Franklin can be seen resting in her shining gold casket with her legs crossed, wearing a red dress and matching stiletto heels
Beginning at 9am Tuesday, fans were allowed into the museum to pay their respects to Franklin in her open casket
The casket carrying Franklin’s body was taken to the viewing in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse
The same Cadillac was used to transport her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, when he died in July 1984. It was also used to transport Rosa Parks’ body when she died in 2005
Franklin’s gospel music played over the museum speakers as mourners approached her casket and paid their respects. Many were seen crying, crossing themselves, bowing their heads or blowing kisses to the late singer
Franklin’s fans were visibly emotional ask they walked past her casket, getting a glimpse of the singer for the final time
Fans were seen comforting each other as they walked past Franklin’s body on Tuesday morning
Reverend Jesse Jackson covered his face after getting emotional outside the Wright Museum where Franklin is lying in state. Jackson had known Franklin for years and eulogized her at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church on August 19
Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, told The Associated Press Tuesday that she and others who helped plan a public viewing in Detroit wanted to give the Queen of Soul a send-off that ‘would match her legacy.’
Owens noted that the pastel roses surrounding Franklin’s gold-colored casket reflected the singer’s love for the flower and her propensity to send arrangements ‘in grand fashion.’
Franklin was dressed in red to symbolize her honorary membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Owens said that dress looked like ‘something she would have selected for herself’ to wear on stage.
She told INSIDE EDITION that the red dress had a lace bodice and sleeves and a netting skirt. Her shoes were Christian Louboutins and her jewelry was custom made for the funeral.
Swanson told the Associated Press that her family has long been close with the Franklin family and that it was nothing for Franklin to call the funeral home and take care of families in financial need – ‘usually in full without being asked or prompted to do so.’
Aretha Franklin’s special ties to the ivory Cadillac LaSalle hearse that carried her casket
Aretha Franklin’s body was transported to Detroit’s Wright Museum Tuesday in an ivory, vintage LaSalle hearse.
It is a two-door 1940 Cadillac LaSalle.
It is the same hearse used to carry Franklin’s father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, when he died in July 1984, CNN reported.
The LaSalle previously carried Temptations singer David Ruffin when he died in 1991.
It was also used to transport Rosa Parks’ body when she died in 2005.
Parks was also given a public viewing at the Wright Museum when she died.
Swanson said many people attending Franklin’s two-day public viewing at a Detroit museum ‘are here because they were blessed by her big heart and her desire to reach beyond the boundaries of her own success and touch others.’
Franklin’s longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, told INSIDE EDITION that the official photo of Franklin in her casket — shot from behind, revealing her red ensemble and legs crossed at the ankles — was taken and released by the singer’s family because they wanted ‘a respectful photo to share with her millions of fans around the world who could not attend the viewing.’
Franklin’s gospel recordings played in the background as mourners paying their respect approached her casket, pausing as they cried, crossed themselves, bowed their heads or blew kisses to the late singer.
Wright Museum board member Kelly Major Green said the goal was to create an environment akin to a church, reflecting the place where Franklin got her start as a singer.
Franklin’s casket is believed to be the special order Promethean Casket, which retails for $40,000 and is said to be the same style coffin that James Brown and Michael Jackson were buried in. Handcrafted over two weeks, the mirror-finished casket features 24k gold-plated hardware and a velvet interior and is made from 48oz. per square foot of bronze.
While many fans hailed from Detroit, others had traveled in from all around the country for the opportunity to see Franklin while lying in state at the museum, which had previously hosted a similar public viewing for civil rights icon Rosa Parks following her death in 2005.
LaTonya McIntyre, of Las Vegas, was the first on line to get inside the museum for the public viewing, arriving Monday a 4pm to start the line.
McIntyre told CNN that she was seven years old and living in Alabama when she first heard Franklin’s rendition of the gospel track, ‘Holy, Holy.’
‘It was just pleasing to my soul,’ McIntyre said. ‘She wasn’t the Queen of Rock and Roll or the Queen of R&B, she was the Queen of Soul. Because she touched your soul.’
Melissa Howard, 50, of Austin Texas, said she flew in to Detroit the day before Franklin’s public viewing started, so she could ensure that she would be able to get inside the museum and pay her respects to Franklin.
Howard, a fan of Franklin’s since she was a child, told the Detroit Free Press that she arrived on the line at 6.30pm Monday and that Franklin was ‘royalty’ and ‘worth it.’
Franklin fans were seen carrying concert posters among other Franklin memoribilia to the public viewing
Specially-made t-shirts featuring one of Franklin’s many JET magazine covers were also worn by fans attending the singer’s public viewing
Franklin’s gold-colored casket was driven to the museum in a vintage white LaSalle on Tuesday morning before the viewing
Hundreds of fans who were already on line for the viewing watched as Franklin’s casket was carried inside the museum
Howard said that at around 1am Tuesday, Franklin’s niece, Chrystal, came to visit the line and handed out bottled water and White Castle hamburgers to say thank you to fans on behalf of the family.
While plenty of the people waiting on line were there to see Franklin because they were fans of her music, others said they were there to celebrate her for her accomplishments in the civil rights movement.
Aretha fan Charles Thomas, 59, of Detroit, told the Free Press that, ‘She helped the movement — her and Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. She went through the back door so people who look like me could go through the front door.’
Thousands of mourners are expected to visit the museum, which was the largest black museum in the United States until the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C., in 2016.
Franklin’s public viewing will be open from 9am to 9pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Thursday from noon to 4pm, her body will be moved to New Bethel Baptist Church, which was founded by her late father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, giving congregation members a chance to pay their respects if they were unable to get into the public viewing.
Thursday night at 6pm, a riverfront amphitheater will rock and roll with musical tributes to Franklin, which is being called ‘A People’s Tribute to the Queen.’
Chene Park will host the genre-spanning Thursday evening concert, which is scheduled to feature Gladys Knight, Johnny Gill, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Angie Stone, Keith Washington and many others. The free tickets were all claimed shortly after going on sale Monday morning.
The Four Tops also will be among those performing. Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir said he was honored that his famed Motown group was invited to perform. The lone, surviving original member of the quartet said he and his bandmates shared a special bond with Franklin on stages and in studios over the decades.
LaTonya McIntyre (second from left) was the first person to stand on line outside the Wright Museum, waiting for her chance to say goodbye to Franklin. Many fans lined up and slept outside the museum overnight to ensure they secured a spot on line
Thousands are expected to go to the Wright Museum to pay their respects during Franklin’s two-day public viewing period
Franklin fans from her Detroit hometown and across the country waited outside the museum to pay their respects to Franklin
The mood outside the museum was festive, with fans sharing in the joy of celebrating the life of their favorite singer
Fans became more somber, however, as they got closer to the front of the museum and prepared to see Franklin’s body
‘I’m happy – we always love to do anything we can for ‘little sis,” he said, adding that the performances ‘should be awe-inspiring.’
Franklin’s funeral is being held Friday at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. The family and friends-only service is set to feature an all-star lineup of performers including Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia and Shirley Caesar. Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Holliday and Franklin’s son, Edward Franklin, will also perform.
VIPs aren’t expected to be limited to the musical kind: Scheduled to speak at the service is former President Bill Clinton, whose inaugurations featured performances by Franklin. Others include the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Cicely Tyson, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Clive Davis and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Smokey Robinson also plans to pay tribute with words, not music. The Motown ‘Miracle’ and Franklin grew up together and delivered a spine-tingling duet on Soul Train in 1979.
The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor of Atlanta’s Salem Baptist Church, will deliver the eulogy.
It’s expected to be a marathon service, perhaps lasting five hours or more and will be livestreamed and broadcast on TV.
Greater Grace Temple is calling on people with pink Cadillacs to line up before the funeral in an effort to create a ‘Freeway of Love’ in tribute to Franklin. That’s a nod to her funky ’80s tune of the same name that prominently featured the car in the lyrics and video.
Those who line the route get a special perk: The driver of the Caddy and one extra person will be admitted to the funeral.
The church also hosted Parks’ funeral, at which Franklin sang.
After the funeral, Franklin will be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, along with her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin; brother Cecil Franklin; sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin; and nephew, Thomas Garrett. Woodlawn also is the final resting place for Parks and many of the Motor City’s musical elite, including members of the Four Tops.
Franklin passed away August 16 at 9.50am surrounded by family and friends at her home in Detroit following a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
‘In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family,’ a statement from her family read.
‘We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers.
‘We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.’
Franklin, who sang with matchless style on such classics as ‘Think,’ ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ and her signature song, ‘Respect’, announced her retirement from touring last year.
The mother-of-four had battled various undisclosed health issues in recent years. Her last public performance was at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York in November last year.
Aretha Franklin performed at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Fall Gala in New York City on November 7, 2017. It was her last public performance before her death on August 16