Aretha Franklin has been remembered as the “voice of a generation” as stars including Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder performed at her funeral.
Franklin died, aged 76, after suffering from cancer, on 16 August and was laid to rest after a seven-hour long funeral at her church, the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.
Led by the Bishop Charles Ellis III, it included tributes from former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, performances from the Clark Sisters, and Smokey Robinson, as well as heartfelt memorials from her family.
Franklin’s music was described as “revelation and revolution”, while she was described as a feminist before feminism, as well as a civil rights activist before there was a movement.
She was called “black girl magic”, a “true Renaissance woman” and as someone with a “constant thirst for knowledge”.
The programme cover showed a young Franklin, with sunglasses perched on her nose and the caption “A Celebration Fit For The Queen”.
In tribute, Mr Clinton said: “We started out, not as the president and first lady, senator, secretary of state, but like as Aretha groupies.
“She was only about four years older than me – five than Hilary. When we are getting out of college, she got her big breakthroughs.
“She had the voice of a generation, maybe a century. Yes, she was born into a musical culture, but she also worked for years, I mean years, springing out of the church and the gospel music to the R’n’B and the jazz clubs.”
He added: “For all the wonderful things Aretha did for me, my most endearing memory of her was almost happenstance. I was there at what turned out to be the last public singing she did, at an AIDs benefit last year, at the cathedral of St John the Divine in Harlem.
“Elton John called and asked me to go, he said ‘Aretha is the talent’, so I turned up early.
“She heard I was here and she summoned me back and she is sitting there. She was desperately ill, gaunt. But she stood up and said ‘how you doing baby?’
“I said, ‘I’m doing better now!’ She said ‘look at me, I finally got thin again’.”
Members of her family, including her grandchildren and her nieces and nephews, also read personal tributes.
Grandson Jordan Franklin said: “I am sad because I have lost a friend, but I know the imprints you have can never be lost on this world.
“You showed God’s love and there is nothing more honourable.
“Long live the Queen.”
The Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke about her upbringing, saying that Franklin was “born out of the bowels of our struggle”.
He said: “Aretha’s not lost, we know where she is.
“A few months ago Aretha was worried for me because I have Parkinson’s.
“But this is not for Aretha, this is for us.
“If you leave today and you aren’t registered to vote, you are dishonouring Aretha.
“If you hear this music and don’t feel something, there’s something wrong.
“There’s a God who is the doctor of doctors. Don’t fear these diseases. So sleep on Aretha, see you in the morning.”
Smokey Robinson broke into song, singing Really Gonna Miss You, after speaking about first meeting her when they were just eight years old, and being the last of their childhood friends together.
Faith Hill was among those paying musical tribute to the late singer, and performed a rendition of What A Friend We Have in Jesus.
Grande, 25, attended with her fiance Pete Davidson, and was spotted before the funeral speaking to Hillary Clinton. She performed Aretha’s Natural Woman.
Unable to be there themselves, the Obamas sent a message, which included: “From a young age she rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice.
“Her story reflected the very best of the American story.”
It adds: “In the example she set both as an artist and citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation.
“The music she made captured some of our deepest human desires, namely affection and respect.
“She was truly one of a kind.
“As you pay tribute, know we will be saying a little prayer for you.”
Closing the day’s tributes, Stevie Wonder sung I’ll Always Be Loving You and urged America to follow in the lesson’s Franklin taught.
“If we love God then we know love that will make all things better. When we make Love Great again, that is what Aretha said all her life. Through the pain, she gave us the joy and said let’s make Love Great Again,” he said.
We need to make “Love Great Again because Black Lives do matter”, he added.
Franklin was dressed in a shimmering dress and heels, her fourth outfit of the week, after lying in state in two places the week before.
The congregation gathered around the coffin and were led in the Lord’s Prayer, before the family left the church and her casket was carried out.
From – SkyNews