Update: The body of Aretha Franklin will lie in state at New Bethel Baptist Church, the family spokeswoman has announced.
A special viewing will be noon-4 p.m. Aug. 30 at the church, 8430 Linwood in Detroit. The viewing is an addition to the previously scheduled viewings from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Aug. 28 and 29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren in Detroit.
Despite rumors that circulated over the weekend, Franklin’s funeral service Aug. 31 will remain a private affair, said the late singer’s publicist Gwendolyn Quinn.
“The funeral is for friends, family and invited guests only,” Quinn said.
Franklin, 76, died in her home Thursday from advanced pancreatic cancer.
A tribute concert on Aug. 30 will be open to the public but is still in the planning stages.
Rev. Jesse Jackson has started the Homegoing Celebration for the “Queen Of Soul” Aretha Franklin:
Standing on the stage where nearly 35 years ago he stood to help eulogize her father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Sunday lionized Aretha Franklin not for her music, but for her service to the civil rights cause.
In a voice so soft at the beginning that people in the packed auditorium at New Bethel Baptist Church were shouting for his microphone to be turned up, Jackson painted a picture of the world Franklin was born into — one where being black meant a life of struggle.
“Aretha was born in a shack in Memphis,” Jackson told the crowd Sunday morning, adding there were 225 blacks lynched that year in Tennessee. “She was born in the midst of oppression. No one was saying Black Lives Matter then.”
He told of how when Franklin toured as she was starting out as a singer, she often stayed in private homes, because there weren’t hotels that let blacks stay.
But Franklin was committed to overturning that, Jackson said. He noted her father, C.L. Franklin, the superstar pastor of New Bethel, was a leader in the civil rights movement, something Aretha Franklin did as well, even working behind the scenes.
Jackson recalled once when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was facing bankruptcy.
“She went on a 11-city tour with Harry Belafonte and gave all the money to Dr. King,” Jackson told the church.
“She has a crown of jewels (now in heaven). Jewels for singing. Jewels for serving.”
The crowd filled New Bethel, located at Linwood and W. Philadelphia, to honor Franklin at her home church just days after her death from cancer. The cornerstone on the outside of the church building notes that when the congregation moved to that site in 1963, Rev. C.L. Franklin was the pastor. Aretha is listed as a patron on the large stone.
A memorial covered the walls and sidewalks on either side of the main entrance. Balloons stirred in the breeze as parishioners walked by and flowers, some still in their plastic bouquet wrappings were propped against the wall. All morning, people driving —
or in one case riding their bike — stopped to take pictures or add their own tribute to the walls.
Inside, New Bethel pastor Robert Smith Jr. opened the service.
“It’s a sad day … Aretha is gone from our eyesight and the reach of our hand” but it’s a happy day because she is in heaven.
Carissa Wells, 45, of Detroit, came to New Bethel Sunday morning, even though she didn’t know Franklin personally, or attend church there.
“My mom played (Franklin’s) music all the time when I was growing up,” she said. “Anytime I hear something of hers, I feel like I’m 8 years old again. My mom died a few years ago, but I know she would have wanted me to come today. It’s way to honor them both.
Franklin’s drive for civil rights didn’t fade away with the passage of time, a point Ralph Godbee, the former Detroit police chief and current police chief for Detroit Public Schools Community District, made. Godbee had been scheduled to speak Sunday in honor of New Bethel’s Homecoming day and picnic and was asked to keep that schedule. He spoke before Jackson did.
“I remember one time when I was police chief, my assistant coming in and giving me a note that said Aretha Franklin was on the phone. I went into my office and straightened my uniform, like she could see me. There wasn’t any Facetime then. There’s something about when a Queen calls.
“I picked up the phone and she cursed me out. I’ve never been more honored to be cursed out.”
Turns out a Detroit officer had done something to one of Franklin’s family members that Franklin felt was over the line. Once the officer learned the person was connected to Franklin, the officer stopped and apologized.
Franklin told Godbee that was wrong — what if the person hadn’t been connected to Franklin? Why weren’t his officers treating Detroiters better?
That was an example of Franklin’s commitment to standing up to people and her love for Detroit, Godbee said.
“There’s a revival in this city and it will be on the back of the spirit of the Queen,” he said.
Franklin’s funeral will be on Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple. It’s by invitation only.
The funeral will follow a public viewing Aug. 28-29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Midtown Detroit, where Franklin will lie in state. The viewing will run 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day.
Greater Grace, which seats about 4,000, has been the site of funerals for many notable Detroit figures, including Rosa Parks, Marcus Belgrave and the Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs.
“On Thursday morning, Earth lost her music. Heaven gained her music.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke Sunday morning at a memorial service honoring the late ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin. Franklin’s funeral will be held Aug. 31 in Detroit. https://t.co/ZbxGZMGbRO pic.twitter.com/Zrq7uruDf8
— ABC News (@ABC) August 20, 2018
Aretha Franklin will be laid to rest upon the conclusion of a four-day celebration later this month.
Franklin, who was the undisputed “Queen of Soul,” died Thursday morning at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. At the time of her death she was at home in Detroit surrounded by friends and family.
A public visitation won’t be held in Detroit until Aug. 28. The funeral will be held Friday, Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit (23500 West 7 Mile Road).
Here are the dates and plans:
- For two days — Aug. 28 and 29 — Franklin’s body will lie in repose at Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History. The viewing will be open to the public.
- The funeral will be held at Greater Grace Temple and will only be for close family and friends.
- Organizers are working on a musical tribute with major recording artists. The venue is still being decided.
- Right now, Franklin’s body is being held at Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit.
Many people, from historians to Grammy Award-winning artists, paid tribute to the Queen of Soul at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Friday night. The evening was filled with music and memories.
The museum already had a crowd from its celebration of the 36th Annual African World Festival, which is being held from Friday to Sunday.
“What can I say?” said Regina Belle, who won the best pop performance by a duo or group Grammy Award for “A Whole New World” from Disney’s 1992 movie “Aladdin.”
Belle said performing in Detroit, outside the same venue where the Queen of Soul will lie in repose, gives her chills.
“What better place to put her body — in a place that embodies what our people have stood for, what we have endured,” Belle said.
The tributes didn’t just come from musicians.
“Every time I was in her presence, it was a state of euphoria,” said Sharon Freed-Moreland, the artistic director at Dancing Divas & Divos Dance Academy.
Freed-Moreland spent six years touring with Franklin as a backup dancer and choreographer in the early 2000s.
“It’s wonderful to dance with all the dancers and to dance for the queen again,” Freed-Moreland said, “but this time, she won’t be there watching.”
People at United Sound Systems Recording Studios are reflecting on the time Franklin spent recording in studio on 2nd Avenue.
“We came here and recorded Aretha and ‘Who’s Zooming Who,'” said studio historian Alex Alexandere.
Alexandere said that after her father, C.L. Franklin, died, the Queen of Soul took a break from recording music and, when she returned, United Sound Systems Recording Studios was one of her favorites.
“When she came here to record, she knew five to 10 minutes she could go home or get her fried chicken delivered to her,” Alexandere said. “She was a diva, but she was our diva.”
United Sound Systems Recording studios will be holding a free-to-the-public open house honoring Franklin Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. It is located at 5840 2nd Ave. in Detroit.