The Queen lies in state. Pool photo by Paul Sancya/Getty Images
At the start of a two-day public viewing in Detroit's historic Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, thousands of mourners paid their respects to Aretha Franklin to the eerily beautiful sound of her gospel performances. Accompanied by massive bouquets and laid in a gold-plated casket - "God didn't make a better singer, and there isn't a better casket," said a funeral official - the Queen of Soul was dressed all in elaborate red down to her stiletto heels, "a diva to the end," to honor her life and legacy as well as her honorary membership in the community-minded Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Noted one official, "She is, indeed, resplendent in repose, as a queen should be."
The viewing, which launched a week of tributes in her home town, was meant to retain an air of dignity and respect akin to the church where she began her musical life. Press coverage was limited, her family requested only gospel music be played, local fans held an earlier tribute gospel concert to honor her early days, and the viewing was tinged with history - the day's hearse, a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle, also transported the body of Franklin's father, legendary pastor and civil rights figure Rev. C.L. Franklin, and Rosa Parks, and the museum has held services for many black dignitaries, including Parks. Said a museum official, “It was important that Aretha take her place next to them and lie in state there.”
A private funeral is set for August 31 at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple. For a touch of grace here and now, Aretha sings "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" at the funeral of Martin Luther King (apologies for the cuts), a reminder that she was present for so much. She also sang "Precious Lord" at the funeral of Mahalia Jackson, and "Amazing Grace" at Obama's inauguration. "Being a singer is a natural gift," she once said. "It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that." May she rest in peace and power.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/aretha_frankliShe will be missed.