Mourners arrive for funeral of Aretha Franklin
Mourners including Bill Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg and Stevie Wonder have arrived for the funeral of Aretha Franklin.
Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple is being filled with dignitaries and celebrities, while hundreds of fans line the streets outside.
The body of Franklin arrived several hours before the service was due to begin, and mourners got a glimpse of the Queen of Soul during an open casket viewing.
Franklin is dressed in a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels for her final outfit. It is the fourth outfit she has worn during a week of events leading up to her funeral.
Floral arrangements from singers including Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and from the family of Otis Redding have been set up in a hallway outside the sanctuary.
Other bouquets were sent from the Jackson family, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Whispers, Atlantic Records, Sir Elton John, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Tom Joyner, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Don King and Diana Ross.
The street outside the church has been filled with pink Cadillacs – a nod to Franklin’s funky 1980s tune Freeway Of Love, which prominently featured the car in the lyrics and video.
The invitation-only funeral will feature speeches by former president Mr Clinton, fellow politician Jesse Jackson and musician Smokey Robinson, as well as performances by Wonder and Ariana Grande.
The service, which could last five hours, ends a week that included high-profile public viewings and tribute concerts.
Her coffin has been carried this week by a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse that also took Franklin’s father, legendary minister CL Franklin, and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks to their final resting places at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the singer will join them.
Bishop Charles Ellis III will lead the service in front of the star-studded congregation.
“It is my goal and my aim to ensure that people leave here with some kind of spiritual awakening,” Mr Ellis said.
“This is not a concert, this is not a show, this is not an awards production. This is a real life that has been lived, that a person regardless of how famous she became no matter how many people she touched around the world, she still could not escape death.
“And hopefully, a lot of people here with money and fame and influence and friends and notoriety and wealth, hopefully they will think of their mortality and say there is something bigger than fame, there is something bigger than Hollywood, something bigger than being a recording artist and selling gold albums or what have you.”