Aretha Franklin funeral live – Ariana Grande, the Clintons and 120 pink Cadillacs arrive for Queen of Soul’s star-studded send-off

The Queen of Soul was transported to her final farewell in Rosa Parks' hearse wearing a gold dress inside a gold casket to the Greater Grace Temple where family, celebrity friends and fans gathered.

Aretha's final farewell, what we know:

  • The Queen of Soul's star-studded service is being livestreamed around the world
  • The singer's body was transported to the service in Rosa Parks' white hearse
  • Aretha will be laid to rest in a solid bronze casket plated in 24-carat gold
  • The superstar's body will be entombed at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit
  • Aretha wore a string of fashionable outfits in the run up to her star-studded burial
  • Stars including Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson are to perform
  • Speakers include Bill Clinton, Smokey Robinson and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
  • Around 100 pink Cadillacs will be lined up outside the Greater Grace Temple

Among the first to arrive were singers Ariana Grande and Smokey Robinson along with the Clintons and film star Whoopie Goldberg.

Bishop Charles Ellis III, the pastor at Greater Grace Temple, was waiting for the superstar's arrival.

“This day is absolutely historic,” Ellis said. "I think each and every one of us make our mark in life, whether brief or small or significant.

"Only once in a while do you have someone like Aretha Franklin that makes a mark, an indelible person, as she has.”

Earlier we told how Jennifer Hudson will pay a moving tribute to Aretha Franklin when she sings 'Amazing Grace' at the legend's funeral today.

The Grammy winner – who will play Aretha in an upcoming bipoic – will join a string of music legends as the Queen of Soul is given a final farewell fit for royalty.

Today's send-off will "mark the elements, emotions and grand entrances" that were hallmarks of the six decade career which only ended when she died of pancreatic cancer aged 76 on August 16.

And it boasts a lineup of speakers and singers that would rival any of the hottest entertainment revues, past or present.

Among those offering words will be former President Bill Clinton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and singer Smokey Robinson.

Robinson has promised to make his words "personal" since he remained close with the legendary star until the very end.

He revealed they "talked all the time," the last just a couple weeks before she became too ill to speak.

"We saw all of our other close friends go," Robinson said. "We used to talk about that – we saw a lot of soldiers go."

Songs will be also be performed by Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande, Fantasia, Faith Hill, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan and more.

Selected highlights of Aretha Franklin's epic funeral service

Loca Detroit time ( minus five hours)

8:30 – 9:50 a.m.— Viewing — Recorded Songs by Aretha
9:30-9:50 a.m. — Musical Prelude — Aretha Franklin Orchestra
10:40-10:45 a.m.— Musical Tribute — Faith Hill
10:45 a.m. — Mike Duggan — Mayor, City of Detroit
10:55 a.m. — Governor Rick Snyder, State of Michigan
11-11:05 a.m. — Musical Tribute — Ariana Grande
11:05-11:10 a.m. — Musical Tribute — The Clark Sisters
11:40-11:45 a.m. — Family Musical Tribute — Edward Franklin
11:45-11:50 a.m. — Obituary— Sabrina Owens
12:05 p.m. — Former President, William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton
12:31 p.m. — Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder, National Action Network
12:36-12:41 p.m. — Musical Tribute — Chaka Khan
12:41-12:51 p.m. — Musical Tribute — Ron Isley
12:51 p.m. — Reverend Jesse Jackson
1:10- 1:15 p.m. — Musical Tribute — Fantasia Barrino-Taylor
1:15 p.m. — Tyler Perry
1:17 p.m. — Cicely Tyson, Actress
1:25 p.m. — Smokey Robinson, Recording Artist
1:38 p.m. — Isaiah Thomas Former NBA Player, Detroit Pistons
1:42 p.m. — Ron Moten, Personal Friend, Franchise Owner, McDonald’s Restaurants
1:53- 2 p.m. — Musical Tribute — Bishop Marvin Sapp and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir
2-2:05 p.m. — Sermonic Selection — Jennifer Hudson
2:35-2:45 p.m. — Musical Tribute — Stevie Wonder joined by National Artists

2:45-3 p.m. — Committal and Recessional — Jennifer Holliday and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir

According to TMZ, Faith Hill will sing 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus' at the funeral, and Ariana Grande will perform 'Natural Woman'.

Wonder will reportedly do a rendition of 'The Lord's Prayer and his hit 'As'.

Aretha will be transported for her final farewell in Rosa Parks' hearse from New Bethel Baptist Church where she has been lying in state.

Aretha sang at Parks’ funeral and the singer will later be entombed in the same 'Motor City' cemetery as the civil rights activist.

The street outside Greater Grace will also be lined with pink Cadillacs – a nod to Franklin's funky '80s tune, "Freeway of Love," which prominently featured the car in the lyrics and video.

Bishop Charles Ellis III of the Detroit church is fully aware this afternoon's funeral may well exceed seven hours.

"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," he said.

"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."

Throughout this week, thousands of loyal fans have been paying their final respects to the Queen of Soul  at Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

The star's body went on display on Tuesday as part of a week of commemorations for the legend.

For the first of the public viewings, the star was dressed in ruby red Christian Louboutin heels and a matching dress with her legs crossed at the ankle as a show of strength.

On the final day, she had been changed into a sheer baby blue dress with matching shoes.

She is being laid to rest in a solid bronze Promethean casket plated in 24-carat gold. It is the same type of coffin in which singers James Brown and Michael Jackson were buried.

It has the epitaph "Aretha Franklin the Queen of Soul" embroidered into the fabric on the inside of the lid.

Dubbed the Queen of Soul and considered one of the greatest voices ever, Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942.

She moved to Detroit, Michigan, by the time she was five and the music icon started soon singing in the Baptist church where her father was a minister.

Her powerful voice and soulful tone singled her out as something special from the very start.

However, she was just 12 years old when she first fell pregnant with son Clarence, his dad was school friend Donald Burk.

Then again aged 14, she had another son Edward named after his father, Edward Jordan.

Franklin's third child, Ted White, Jr, was born in February 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards and played guitar backing for his mum.

The Queen of Soul's stellar career which spanned six decades and made her a global icon

Aretha launched a stellar music career aged 18, but it was in 1967 when she signed with Atlantic Records that her star began to soar.

The soul Queen was estimated to be worth around £47million having amassed a fortune through her dazzling music career.

Rolling Stone magazine had named her the greatest singer of all time.

Merging gospel, soul and pop, her powerful voice cemented her place in music history.

Her hits including 'Respect', 'Natural Woman', 'I Say a Little Prayer', 'I Knew You Were Waiting'.'Chain of Fools' and 'Freeway of Love' have become global anthems. 

However, amazingly Aretha only had one UK No1 hit single with 'I Knew You Were Waiting' which was a duet with Brit singer George Michael.

She had two Billboard Hot 100 number one songs – 'I Knew You Were Waiting' and 'Respect'.

Aretha also won 18 Grammy Awards and even received America's highest civilian award, The Presidential Medal Of Freedom.

Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham, born March 28, 1970, is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.

She was married twice, first to Theodore "Ted" White aged 19. The pair separated in 1969 amid claims of domestic abuse towards her.

She then wed Peyton Place actor Glynn Turman in 1978 becoming stepmother to his three children, however they divorced in 1984.


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