On Tuesday, a four-day celebration for the life and career of Queen of Soul Aretha Franklinkicked off in Detroit, Michigan.
Fans from near and far lined the sidewalks surrounding the Charles H. Wright African American Museum, where Aretha’s body will lie in repose for two days, ahead of a memorial and funeral in the city she called home.
Visitors paid their final respects to Aretha, who laid in a gold-plated coffin, dressed in a ruby red gown with matching shoes.
Officials at the local Swanson Funeral Home helped to organize Aretha’s farewell services, and the company’s executive vice president, Linda Swanson, reveals they have worked closely with the singer’s family for years as the generous musician would often cover the burial costs for families in need without any publicity.
“(It was) usually in full without being asked or prompted to do so,” Swanson told The Associated Press.
Franklin’s body will be moved to the New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was once the pastor, for a private visitation on Thursday, ahead of an all-star memorial concert at Chene Park Amphitheater, featuring her friend Gladys Knight, The Four Tops, and Angie Stone.
Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Ronald Isley, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, The Clark Sisters and Marvin Sapp are among the 19 artists scheduled to perform at the family-and-friends-only service. Smokey Robinson, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Former President Bill Clinton will be among the high-profile speakers.
The Bounce television network and the Brown Sugar streaming service have teamed up to carry Franklin’s farewell memorial service live on Friday, Aug. 31. Bounce and Brown Sugar will partner with Bounce’s local Detroit affiliate, WXYZ-TV, for the special event, airing and streaming WXYZ’s hometown coverage and commentary nationwide.
“Celebrating the Queen of Soul” will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET. WXYZ news anchors and longtime friends of Franklin, Carolyn Clifford and Glenda Lewis, will host the hour-long event. The special will include highlights and remembrances of the legendary singer’s career interspersed with live reports from outside Greater Grace Temple as celebrities, politicians, friends and loved ones arrive to pay their respects. The memorial service is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Aretha’s funeral will take place on Friday at the Greater Grace Temple.