Aretha Franklin’s Star-Studded Funeral Service Is a Tribute to Her Incomparable Legacy
Aretha Franklin, who died on August 16 at the age of 76, will be laid to rest on Friday, August 31, following a private but star-studded funeral in Detroit. The civil-rights activist and legendary singer was beloved throughout the world not just for her voice but also for her sense of self and dedication to her community, and her funeral service is a testament to that legacy.
Politicians, community leaders, fellow musicians, and other celebrities filled the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, which also served Rosa Parks for her funeral in 2005. Among the guests: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Chaka Khan, Ariana Grande, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tyler Perry.
Although the funeral was set to begin at 10am EST and finish around 3pm, the celebration of Franklin’s life is expected to take much longer. There are dozens of planned speeches, songs, and sermons by Franklin’s friends and family. Here’s a complete rundown of everyone scheduled to honor of the Queen of Soul at her sendoff, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The funeral is being officiated by Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, with Reverend Robert Smith Jr. as the co-officiant. Country star Faith Hill is the first celeb performer and will be followed by remarks from local politicians including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Brenda Jones, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Next, Ariana Grande will take the stage for another musical tribute. She was added to the program after Franklin’s family saw her perform a touching tribute to the legend on The Tonight Show with the Roots. Grande will be followed by the Clark Sisters.
Next, the Williams Brothers and Vanessa Bell Armstrong will perform, before members of Franklin’s family present reflections of the singer’s personal legacy. Other musical tributes — by her son Edward, opera singers Alice McAllister Tillman and Audrey DuBois Harris, and Pastor Shirley Caesar and Tasha Cobbs-Leonard — will follow, with breaks for speeches by Sabrina Owens, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Bill Clinton, Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Donald Parsons, retired judge Greg Mathis, and State Representative Brenda Lawrence.
Following these remarks, Chaka Khan and Ron Isley will perform, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson will give a speech. American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino-Taylor is also scheduled to sing, which will lead into reflections by Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, Clive Davis, Smokey Robinson, radio host Mildred Gaddis, retired NBA star Isaiah Thomas, and friends Ron Moten and Michael Eric Dyson.
Toward the end of the service, Jennifer Hudson will perform what the program calls a “sermonic selection,” which will be followed by the official eulogy by Reverend Jasper Williams. Stevie Wonder will perform a final tribute, after which Jennifer Holliday will sing with the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir for the committal and final procession.
(photos via Theo Wargo/Getty for Tribeca Film Festival + Scott Olson/Getty)