As the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin’s final send-off was always going to be a flamboyant affair and some of the biggest names in the music industry, both past and present, turned out to sing in honour of the late legend.
Franklin was finally laid to rest on Friday as her family invited members of the public, along with the media, to attend the eight-hour long service at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple.
The music-filled ceremony featured stars such as Chaka Khan, along with Aretha’s long-time friends Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, as well as younger stars including Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, whom Franklin said she’d choose to play her in a movie about her life.
Robinson, 78, spoke about the first time he ever met Aretha as a young girl and described how they became “so close”, before saying: “I didn’t know, especially this soon, that I was going to be having to say goodbye to you.”
He then went on to sing ‘Really Gonna Miss You’ in honour of his “longest friend” who said is now “up there celebrating with her family”. Chaka Khan, 65, also took to the stage, with a moving rendition of ‘Going Up Yonder’, while Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson, 36, belted out ‘Amazing Grace’.
Ariana Grande, 25, performed Aretha’s hit song ‘Natural Woman’, in front of the crowd of mourners which included Bill and Hilary Clinton, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, actress Whoopi Goldberg and Louis Farrakhan, the 84-year-old head of the Nation of Islam.
Read more: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76.
The funeral, which started at 11am EDT, finished at around 6.45pm local time following around eight-hours of moving tributes, both spoken and musical, to the 76-year-old icon, who passed away on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Reports also claim that an entire wall inside the church had been filled with floral displays from a host of well-wishers, including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, Don King, Diana Ross and the family of James Brown. While more than 100 pink Cadillacs were lined up outside the place of worship, having taken part in the funeral procession earlier that day.
She was also honoured by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday as the Band of the Welsh Guards performed an instrumental version of the 1967 hit ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ during the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.
Prior to her funeral Aretha’s body had been lying in state at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for two days, where fans and the media were invited to view the star’s body in repose.
Crowds of fans queued for hours on Tuesday and Wednesday for the chance to pay their respects, with Franklin resplendent in an ornate 24-karat gold casket inscribed with the words ‘Queen of Soul’, surrounded by lavish arrangements of her favourite flowers.
While black is still a common colour choice for funerals, Aretha’s family honoured her flamboyant style by selecting three colourful outfits for her final public appearances, telling the Associated Press that the outfits were something she “would have chosen for herself”.