Aretha Franklin was laid to rest Friday following a funeral in Detroit, the city she called home for most of her life.
Praised by presidents and pop stars, eulogized by a dozen preachers and feted with a fleet of pink Cadillacs, Aretha Franklin was celebrated on Friday as a musical titan, an empowering feminist and an American icon during a marathon goodbye that showcased a generation of talent that drew inspiration from her.
Ms. Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer two weeks ago, at 76, was the “Queen of Soul,” one of the unimpeachable stars of American music. And her funeral, at a megachurch on the outskirts of Detroit, was suitably regal, with tributes that stretched on for eight hours by Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the basketball star Isiah Thomas and others.
‘She’s just an icon, a legend’
Inside the church doors, an entire wall was filled with floral displays from a host of well-wishers, including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, Don King, Diana Ross and the family of James Brown. Outside, more than 100 of the pink Cadillacs lined up, four abreast, after having served as part of the early morning funeral procession.
Recalling a woman of style
Ms. Franklin’s outfits changed for each of the viewings. First, she wore cherry red, then, powder blue and, finally, rose gold. On Friday, Ms. Franklin, in a gold-plated brass coffin, was dressed in a gold-sequined gown and matching sequined Christian Louboutin heels with the signature bright-red soles.
Many of those who attended also wore sparkling attire, some with fascinators on their heads. Their arrival was marked by hundreds of people who stood outside behind barricades. Henry Elders, 55, held a sign that read, “Aretha Made America Great Again.” His wife, Jenna Elders, said she was as enamored with Ms. Franklin’s fashion sense as her music.
“This was a woman who had style, big style,” she said.
Though entry to the service had been reported to be invitation-only, organizers ultimately allowed in about 1,000 fans who had waited in line for hours.