The legendary Stevie Wonder closed out Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit Friday, telling the crowd ‘black lives do matter’ and to ‘make love great again’.
Wonder began by playing the harmonica, before paying tribute to the Queen of Soul and taking a jab at the current administration.
‘Were it not for God’s goodness and greatness we never would have known the Queen of Soul. We never would have known the joy that she brought to us. We would have never known someone who can express in song the pain we felt,’ he told the crowd.
‘We would have never known someone who can express in song the pain we felt.’
He added, in an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’: ‘So what needs to happen today, not only in this nation but throughout the world, is that we need to make love great again. Because black lives do matter. Because all lives do matter. And if we love God, then we know truly, it is our love that will make all things better.
‘When we make love great again, that is what Aretha has said throughout her life, through the pain she gave us the joy and said “let’s make love great again”.
He then sang, ‘I’ll Be Loving You Always’ and was joined on stage by singers Angie Stone, Jennifer Lewis and Martha Reeves.
Jennifer Hudson had people on their feet as she belted out Amazing Grace at Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Friday, after Bill Clinton brought the audience to tears with his moving tribute.
Hudson, who is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic, wowed the crowd at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance which had people swaying and raising their hands in the air.
The stunning rendition came after Bishop Charles H. Ellis III introduced Clinton as ‘the first black President of the United States’.
Clinton said he and wife Hillary, who attended the funeral with him, had long been avid fans of the soul singer.
‘We started out not as President and First Lady, but as Aretha groupies or something,’ he joked.
He said Franklin’s power to pull a crowd was: ‘Not because she had this breathtaking talent, not because she grew up a princess of soul, but because she lived with courage. Not without fear, but overcoming her fears.’
The legendary Stevie Wonder closed out Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit Friday, telling the crowd ‘black lives do matter’ and to ‘make love great again’
Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance
Hudson had people swaying on their feet and raising their hands in the air as she belted out Amazing Grace at the funeral
People were on their feet as Jennifer Hudson performed. She is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic
Bill Clinton spoke about his friend Aretha Franklin and how hard she worked to get her big break
Clinton ended his speech by playing Franklin’s ‘Think’ off his phone into the microphone
He told the congregation before they were President and First Lady, he and Hillary were ‘Aretha groupies’
‘She lived with faith… she lived with power. I just loved her,’ he said. ‘The secret of her greatness was she took this massive talent, and this perfect culture that raised her, and decided to be the composer of this massive song.’
Clinton could not resist throwing in a joke about Franklin’s flamboyant wardrobe, remarking: ‘I was so happy when I got here and the casket was still open, I got to think: “I wonder what my friend has on today”.’
The former President closed by explaining he didn’t love and respect Franklin for her talent, but for what she did with it, and how she treated others in the face of unimaginable success.
‘She cared about broken people, she cared about people who were disappointed… about people who didn’t succeed as much as she did,’ he said.
‘And she worked her can off to get where she was. She took the gifts God gave her, and they just kept getting a little bigger every day.’
The former President finally cut himself off, having gone well over his time allotment, by playing Franklin’s ‘Think’ on his phone.
Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week
Franklin’s coffin was taken down a red carpet ahead of her star-studded funeral
Cameras and onlookers were seen crowding around the red carpet as the Queen of Soul was taken into the church
Franklin was carried down a red carpet in to Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday morning in a gold plated casket, wearing a gold, full length dress ahead of her star-studded funeral.
The Queen of Soul was brought to the church in a white Cadillac LaSalle hearse that once carried civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, and also her own father legendary minister CL Franklin.
The hearse will pick her up again to take her body to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Parks and her father were also buried.
As crowds gathered outside the church to say their goodbyes, six men were seen carrying Franklin out of the 1940s hearse and into the church, while another two stood behind them.
The pallbearers were seen wheeling the coffin down what would be Franklin’s last ever red carpet, as guests began to arrive at her service.
Inside the coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels – her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing.
As guests walked into the church, and thousands waited out the front to find out if they would be among the lucky 1,000 members of the public permitted entry, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra sang.
Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin
Inside her gold-plated coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels – her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing
Pictured: Aretha Franklin’s casket is closed for the last time by three men wearing gloves
Speakers at the service were seen sitting at the front while host E.L. Banch ran through housekeeping rules for trying to stay on schedule
Flowers sit atop the casket during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple on Friday
Among the high profile guests were Whoopi Goldberg, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ariana Grande, boxer Tommy Hearns, Motown star Martha Reeves and Jesse Jackson.
State troopers came to pay their respects in full uniform before her family entered to say their final goodbyes.
As the Orchestra sang, three men in gloves slowly closed the casket for the last time, with two women by their sides.
Starting more than an hour behind schedule, host and family friend Bishop Ellis told the packed-out church: ‘We will do our best not to waste time, but we will take the necessary time to honor this great woman’.
In the prayer of comfort, Dr. E.L. Branch, senior pastor of Detroit’s Third New Hope Baptist Church, who worked with Franklin’s father, thanked God for the Queen.
‘Thank you Lord for Aretha. She was first Detroit’s, then America’s, and then the world’s,’ he said.
‘An image of hope larger than life. A soldier, a trooper, an encourager, a good and faithful servant.’
Faith Hill made the first musical tribute of the day, singing ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’ with the official orchestra.
The song, performed after a reading of the Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm, had many on their feet dancing and clapping.
Faith Hill kicked off the musical tributes with an energetic rendition of ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’
Pictured: A mourner holds a program during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told the congregation he would be moving to rename the city’s famed Chene Park to Aretha Franklin Park as soon as council met again.
‘Our beautiful waterfront jewel will be Aretha Franklin Park, and when performers for generations to come arrive, they will be reminded they are performing at the home of the Queen of Soul,’ he told the cheering crowd.
Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council President, seconded the motion, and also announced a second street had been named after the singer.
Council member JoAnn Watson said Franklin was always eager to share her wealth with her community, and was never too good to do anything herself.
‘She would ride the streets of Detroit, quietly taking notice of people with special needs and making donations,’ Watson said.
‘She will forever be our Queen.’
Remarks began with local politicians before Ariana Grande sang Franklin’s song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Ariana Grande’s performance was well received, with the audience breaking into rapturous applause when she finished
Rev. Jesse Jackson is seen confronting a family member near Franklin’s casket
Reverend Al Sharpton told of the time Franklin went on an 11-city tour to raise money for Martin Luther King, who was struggling to fund his payroll.
‘She represented the best of our community and she fought for our community until the end,’
‘She gave us pride and she gave us a regal bar to reach. She fought for everybody. Aretha never took orders from nobody but God.’
At some points, his remarks became less rooted in the past and more in the present.
Recognizing her work in standing up for those who could not do it for themselves, Sharpton stood up for Franklin – against Trump.
‘The other Sunday on my show, I misspelled respect. And a lot of you all corrected me. And now I want you to help me correct President Trump to teach him what it means.’
He referenced Trump’s memorial comments about Franklin working for him, responding: ‘No’.
‘She performed for you,’ he yelled. ‘She worked for us.’
Reverend Al Sharpton (pictured) passionately spoke of Aretha’s work for the civil rights movement, and rebuked Trump during his speech
Rev. Sharpton finished by reading out a letter sent in by Barack Obama, where he shared his love for the Queen of Soul.
‘From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice,’ he wrote.
‘Aretha’s work reflected the very best of the American story.
‘While the music she made captured some of out deepest human desires, through her voice Aretha lifted the voices of millions; the downtrodden, the vulnerable or maybe someone who just needed a little boost.’
The starlet’s childhood friend, Smokey Robinson, told the congregation of the day the pair met, and how they had been close ever since.
‘My longest friend has gone home, and I know you’re up there and you’re celebrating with your family and all our neighborhood friends who are gone,’ he said.
‘You’re going to be one of the featured voices in the choir of angels, you know, because you’d have to be.
‘I’m gonna love you forever.’
Motown sensation The Clark Sisters broke the somber mood with a rendition of their song Is My Living In Vain.
During family reflections, Franklin’s granddaughter Victorie Franklin told the church how proud she was to be related to her grandmother: ‘Every time I learn something new about my grandma, I see so much of herself in me and it makes me smile’.
Her grandson Jordan Franklin thanked Franklin for ‘always putting the family first, and showing us the right way to handle success’.
‘I’m sad today, because I’m losing my friend, but the imprint she left on this world can never be removed,’ he said tearfully.
Smokey Robinson, who was a childhood friend of Franklin’s, said his ‘longest friend’ was gone
Franklin’s granddaughter and grandson emotionally paid tribute to the grandmother they deeply admired during Friday’s service
Her niece told of Franklin’s normalcy, from their shopping trips to the Queen of Soul cooking her dinner at college
Franklin’s son Edward showed his love through a musical tribute, singing Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me
The Franklin family is seen embracing after delivering reflections on Aretha
Franklin’s niece Cristal and nephew Vaughn also paid tribute to their ordinary aunt, who went shopping, cooked dinner, and even sung at Cristal’s high school graduation.
‘We’re not saying goodbye Aunty,’ Vaughn said. ‘But farewell, until we see you again in our final resting place.’
Her son Edward wrapped up the reflections, with a moving musical tribute. He sang Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me.
There were more political moments, with Bishop Ellis taking a moment to acknowledge Maxine Waters.
He and the congregation yelled to her: ‘We got your back’, as the congresswoman looked overwhelmed and grateful.
Former US Attorney Eric Holder remembered growing up to Franklin, and his delight at being able to meet her in person.
He encouraged the congregation to remember her work outside of Franklin’s music – and how she could jet from wowing crowds to helping her community on the street without skipping a beat.
‘She was that rare queen who never lost the common touch,’ he said.
‘Our days will be a little less bright and our lives just a bit empty.’
Maxine Waters looked overwhelmed as a pastor called her out and the congregation yelled: ‘We got your back’ in support
Former US Attorney Eric Holder said Franklin ‘was that rare queen who never lost the common touch’
A letter from former President George W Bush addressed to Franklin’s family was read out to the church, praising her ‘important and lasting contributions’.
Bush presented Franklin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, previously given to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.
‘Laura and I are deeply saddened by the loss of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin,’ the letter began.
‘Our hearts ache for you and our prayers are with you. Aretha was a woman of achievement with a deep character and loving heart.
‘She made important and lasting contributions to American music with her gospel-inspired style and distinctive voice. Her remarkable talent helped shape our nation’s artistic and cultural heritage and in 2005, it was my privilege to honor her with our country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
‘I am proud to have met Aretha and am grateful that her music will continue to bring joy to millions for generations to come. As you remember and honor Aretha’s life, may the Almighty comfort you in your grief and sustain you during this difficult time.
‘Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy. May God bless you.’
Judge Greg Mattis spoke of Aretha’s determination to prove everyone wrong, especially when it came to people speculating on her health.
He told the church how he was feeling down and out over the way people had reacted to him trying to take a stand on the Flint water crisis, and how her last ever words to him gave him the strength to keep on fighting to make it right.
‘Her last words to me were taken from the greatest song she performed,’ he said.
‘She said: “You go back up there and you sock it to them”.’
Judge Greg Mattis told the church how Aretha always had a point to prove, but pushed him to keep proving people wrong too
Dr William Barber, a retired pastor, told the congregation of a time towards the end of her life, where she had her caretaker call him and check in because he was having surgery.
‘She’s been in some of the most profound and sacred places in the world, and she never forgot Detroit,’ he said.
US representative Brenda Lawrence joked she was shocked at the huge turnout.
‘It’s amazing to me she has so many friends, because we all feel like the special one,’ she said.
‘I am so proud to have known and to share my life with the amazing queen.’
Reverend James Holley, a close friend of the Franklin family, said he counted himself lucky to be by the soul queen’s bedside when she died.
‘I was with her when she passed. I’m a blessed man, because of my relationship with the family,’ he said.
‘I love me Aretha. I really loved me some Aretha, and Aretha loved her some Jim Holley.’
U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence said Franklin always made people feel like they were special and her only friend
Chaka Khan delivered an impeccable performance of Goin’ Up Yonder, even if she did have the lyrics on the back of her fan
Reverend Donald Parsons delivered a mini sermon on accepting death through his stories about Franklin.
‘She’s not going to some place, she’s going to someone,’ he concluded to a standing ovation.
Chaka Khan delivered a smooth performance of Goin’ Up Yonder, channeling an opulence Franklin would have approved of, with a silk coat and lavishly decorated fan.
The fan appeared to have the lyrics to the song on the back, but did not affect the songstress’ performance.
Ron Isley cut a similarly glamorous figure as he performed on stage, fighting back tears as he sang ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’.
Ron Isley, who once described Franklin as his best friend, struggled to hold back tears as he performed ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’
Reverend and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said there was ‘much to be said and done’ with Franklin’s legacy.
He told the church, and the wider audience watching from elsewhere, that idolizing civil rights icons without being registered to vote did not make sense.
‘We have long lines at the death of the icons and short lines for voting – something is missing,’ he said.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II followed Jackson in his call for people to start voting, and said it was awesome how many people from different faiths had come to pay respects, and called for the group to start meeting up to host revivals for elections and to get people to the polls.
He also spoke of how Aretha could connect to people from all walks of life through her music.
‘In Aretha, the holiness of the sacred and secular came together in only a way that could be ordered by the Lord,’ he said.
‘Aretha told us respect is non negotiable.’
Tyler Perry spoke about dealing with grief, and told Franklin’s family he hoped their grief came ‘in waves’, so it would be easier to deal with.
He shared anecdotes about his superstar friend, noting he could never stay in her dressing room for long, because she always kept it too hot.
Then he told the congregation how powerful Franklin’s voice was.
‘If she is the Queen of Soul, every time, she sang from her soul… When Aretha sang gospel, something happened, something would shake the room,’ he said.
Tyler Perry shared funny anecdotes with the congregation, before noting Franklin’s voice could ‘shake the room’
Hollywood star Cicely Tyson, 91, praised the other speakers and performers for an incredible celebration.
‘God knows we have been blessed,’ she said.
‘I thought I would start by saying good day, but I don’t think that is necessary. We all know what a great day this has been, and how blessed we are to be here on this day .
‘Aretha was the sum total of her life’s experience. Aretha sang to us and spoke to us through her soul and everything she experienced.
‘That’s why no matter what she was singing, she moved every single person.’
Hollywood starlet Cicely Tyson said God had blessed everyone in the church by allowing them to be at the celebration of Franklin’s life
Clive Davis, CEO of Sony, said Franklin ‘really defined loyalty’. Davis said he was always amazed at the superstar’s keenness to work and learn new things.
‘One year, I was getting a lifetime achievement award at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and she told me she had been studying something she’d never done before – she was studying ballet,’ he said.
‘The night came, the curtain went up, the orchestra started playing, and then Aretha came on, straight faced, in a tutu .
‘There was the Queen of Soul, doing well rehearsed pirouettes and dancing with agility and dignity.
Clive Davis, CEO of Sony, said Franklin was an avid learner and once learned ballet so she could perform at an awards ceremony in his honor
‘My friend Aretha was going to extraordinary lengths to make sure my night would be a night always to be remembered.
‘She loved life.’
Mildred Gaddis, friend and radio personality, said it was important to keep Franklin’s legacy going by continuing her work in civil rights and having an open and generous attitude.
She told a story of how Franklin would see a family in need of help on the news, and would call the station to demand their address.
‘She would say to Huel Perkins, “I want to send a check, and don’t you tell anybody about it.” That’s who our Aretha was,’ she said.
‘If we truly love Aretha the way we say we do, we need to keep this legacy going.
Gaddis concluded: ‘I am grateful for the friendship, for the love you’ve shown me, I bid you a good moving.’
Mildred Gaddis said Franklin often donated to families she saw on the news who had come into hardship
Former Detroit Pistons player, Isaiah Thomas, said Franklin was an inspiration who helped the world through her music.
‘Not only does she command respect, but she demanded respect. She lived an unforgettable life, and left all of us with unforgettable memories,’ he said.
‘There are very few people that come along that can shift the consciousness of the world, that can shift the universe by being.
‘Aretha shifted the universe – not only through her songs, but by her spirit and love.’
Former Detroit Pistons player, Isaiah Thomas, told of Franklin’s generosity in taking him in and treating him like family
Ron Moten, who was a neighbor of Franklin’s, and is known in Detroit for his ownership of McDonald’s franchises, told of helping secure Franklin’s apartment at 1am, only to be regaled for another hour by the Queen of Soul, playing piano in her pyjamas.
Moten said he once asked Franklin for a favor – to drop by the assisted living home his mother was staying in and say hello.
Franklin stopped by – with her children, a full band and backup singers. Moten says she sat there and performed for an hour, before closing on Happy Birthday, directed at his mother.
The businessman’s voice cracked as he farewelled the songstress, letting out a sob as he said a final goodbye to his good friend.
Franklin’s funeral has been largely dictated by the Queen of Soul herself, with many performers claiming she had chosen which song they would perform.
She has chosen The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor emeritus of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, to eulogize her.
Ariana Grande arrived at the church with boyfriend Pete Davidson ahead of her performance at the service
Motown star Smokey Robinson was seen in sunglasses after walking in to the service
American singer Shirley Caesar (center) wore a sequinned, floor length, silver gown for the occasion
Omarosa Manigault-Newman is seen arriving at the Greater Grace Temple
Boxer Tommy Hearns arrived with friends ahead of the service
Bill and Hillary Clinton arrived, the former president stopped at the car while his wife slipped into the church
Whoopi Goldberg was among the star studded guest list for Franklin’s funeral
Ariana Grande met up with Hillary Clinton inside the church, and the pair were seen speaking quietly before embracing. She was also pictured with Bill Clinton
Tyler Perry and Faith Hill were in attendance at Friday’s ceremony
Bill Clinton, a long time friend of Franklin’s, was seen greeting other guests at the service
Organizers of the service insist today’s service will be a ‘spiritual awakening’ and not a ‘concert, show or awards production’.
Former president Bill Clinton, Rev Jesse Jackson and Smokey Robinson will all speak at the Queen of Soul’s final send-off.
Franklin and Clinton are old friends, and she sang at both his inaugurations.
When the former President arrived, he was seen fumbling with papers, including what appeared to be his speech and an order of service, as Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slipped into the church.
There will be performances by Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Faith Hill, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan and more.
But the service will not just be for the A list. The first 1,000 people lined up at the Greater Grace Temple will be given access inside, an offer that has created massive crowds outside the church.
But Bishop Charles Ellis III, of Detroit’s Greater Grace, said the funeral will be a respectful service clear of all the pomp and ceremony seen over the past week.
The streets outside the church is lined with pink Cadillacs, a nod to Franklin’s funky ’80s tune, ‘Freeway of Love,’ which prominently featured the car in the lyrics and video
Cadillac took out a full page ad in the paper in the same shade of pink as the cars used in Franklin’s music video
Say the name: The walls of the church where Franklin first learned to sing gospel were decorated with balloons spelling ot her name and posters
Jesse Jackson was one of the first to arrive at the invite-only service in Detroit
All hail the ‘Queen’: Mourners left balloons shaped like stars beneath a sign on the walls of the church spelling out ‘Queen’ on Day 3 of Franklin’s public viewing
‘It is my goal and my aim to ensure that people leave here with some kind of spiritual awakening,’ Ellis said. ‘This is not a concert, this is not a show, this is not an awards production.
‘This is a real life that has been lived, that a person regardless of how famous she became no matter how many people she touched around the world.’
The invitation-only funeral at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple caps off a week of high-profile public viewings and tribute concerts.
Bishop Ellis said the service ‘may well exceed five hours’. The street outside Greater Grace will be lined with pink Cadillacs – a nod to Franklin’s funky ’80s tune, ‘Freeway of Love,’ which prominently featured the car in the lyrics and video.
Gospel artist Marvin Sapp, who is scheduled to perform, said: ‘Of course, some get-down and lift-up need not be mutually exclusive.
Motown star Martha Reeves spoke emotionally about her friend after arriving at the church
Upon entering, guests were greeted with a full gospel choir, with news cameras stationed on a platform at the back
‘I really believe that this… is going to be an eye-opening experience for everybody in the world watching.’
‘We really celebrate because we really recognize that those we call the dearly departed, they wouldn’t want for us to cry and be sad and sorrowful.
‘But they would want us to celebrate their lives because they transitioned from this life to a better one.’
Sapp wouldn’t reveal what he will perform Friday, but said every song is one picked out by Franklin. Robinson also didn’t share what he will say, but that’s for a different reason.
‘I do not plan anything (with) someone I love like that,’ Robinson, a Motown great who grew up with Franklin, said. ‘I love her. She was my longest friend.’
Robinson said he will just make it ‘personal,’ since he remained close with Franklin until the end.
More than 40 artists took the stage at ‘A People’s Tribute to the Queen’ concert in Detroit, Michigan Thursday night
Jazz Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater performs at the concert belting out in honor of the Queen of Soul
Free tickets were snapped up within minutes of being made available online at the 5,000-seat amphitheater
In style: Aretha Franklin was transported to New Bethel Baptist Church in a vintage LaSalle, dressed in a sparkling rose gold floor-length gown accentuated with pink beaded lace and paired with gold-sequined Christian Louboutin heels
All that glitters: Pallbearers carry the polished-bronze casket of legendary singer Aretha Franklin into New Bethel Baptist Church Thursday in Detroit
He said they ‘talked all the time,’ the last just a couple weeks before she became too ill to speak.
‘We saw all of our other close friends go,’ Robinson said. ‘We used to talk about that – we saw a lot of soldiers go.’
Amid the sadness of these days, Robinson can find uplift – and believes Franklin’s legacy is secure. A new generation of singers like Grande who are inspired by the late Queen of Soul is just the beginning.
‘There are some girls who haven’t been born yet … who will be inspired by Aretha,’ he said.
Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, said she started putting thoughts to paper about events earlier this year as her aunt’s health failed.
Since Franklin’s August 16 death at 76, Owens said a close group she described as ‘Aretha’s angels’ have ‘worked tirelessly’ and have been guided by a single question: ‘What would Aretha want?’
‘After all she gave to the world, I felt we needed to give her an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy,’ Owens said.
Attendants stand by to open the doors as the casket carrying Franklin arrives at the New Bethel Baptist Church
Man-made garden: A man works on a growing makeshift memorial for Franklin outside the New Bethel Baptist Church
Franklin reposed in her rose gold gown in the polished bronze casket, pictured being carried into the church
Members of the Nation of Islam pass out copies of The Final Call newspaper to fans of Aretha Franklin waiting outside of the church