Family, friends, celebrities and politicians all paid their final respects to the “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin, on Friday in Detroit. Franklin who is remembered as a singer, songwriter and activist died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.
Aretha Franklin’s final journey was set to be a celebration of a career that transcended music. A star studded line up of artists, sports stars and politicians arrived looking to pay their respects to a performer, the “Queen of soul,” who used her voice far beyond singing. She was a women’s rights campaigner, a civil rights leader, a source of inspiration and an icon.
“When there was no food there was Aretha Franklin. When there was no heat in my house there was Aretha Franklin,” said actress Jennifer Lewis. “Aretha Franklin has wrapped her soul around our souls and that is why she is the queen of souls and always will be. There will never be a singer greater than Aretha Franklin.”
Others, including close friend and civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson used the occasion as a call for further action to advance civil rights.
“The joy of her music, her legacy is awesome,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of joy in that. It was music and service. But we can’t have long line for funerals and short lines for voting. We must also use this as a transforming moment to think through the next phase of our struggle.”
The ceremony itself was an all-day event and former U.S. President Bill Clinton was also among those to pay tribute.
“She had the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of a century,” Clinton said. “She lived with courage. Not without fears but overcoming those fears.”
But it was above all, a celebration of Aretha’s incredible career that spanned six decades.
Pop singer Ariana Grande gave a stirring performance of Franklin’s signature hit, “Natural Woman” while greats such as Smokey Robinson and Chaka Khan also lent their voices to the musical tribute, but perhaps the most moving performance came from close friend Stevie Wonder.