Aretha Franklin: thousands pay respects to ‘Queen of Soul’ in Detroit/Aretha’s last ride

The Guardian – By Imani Mixon/Detroit – 28 Aug 2018

Photo: People file into the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History where the late singer Aretha Franklin will lie in state for two days of public viewing in Detroit Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters.

Fans travel from across the US to the Detroit museum where the late singer lies in repose before funeral on Friday.

Franklin died last week at the age of 76, from pancreatic cancer and in the city where she began her career singing gospel in the New Bethel Baptist church choir.

Her soaring voice, seared with emotion, would become the inspirational standard for other singers to match.

Hundreds lined up before dawn on Tuesday outside the museum, where the body of the late “Queen of Soul” will lie for two days of public viewing. The line stretched along Warren Avenue, down Brush Street, and toward Farnsworth Street. Lifelong fans and young admirers waited together.


Bre Faison, 72, and her eight-year-old grandson Jarod Faison, got up early to join the queue. Faison said her cousin was Franklin’s classmate, and she first heard of Franklin when the singer was 14.

Photo: Fans of Aretha Franklin line up to attend a viewing for the late soul music legend on the 2nd day.

“God had already given her what she needed. She’s at rest now, she’s at peace from everything she’s gone through in life and God knows her heart. She was definitely a very original person, just the love that she poured into the city,” she said.

Some had trekked across the country to pay homage. When Franklin’s casket was escorted into the museum, 46-year-old Sir Diego Brazil of North Miami Beach, Florida said he couldn’t help but burst into a rendition of Amazing Grace.

“I embodied her spirit because that’s one of her favorites,” said Brazil. “In 1997, her music kept me from committing suicide during a tumultuous time. That’s how powerful her presence in music has been in my life, and I’m sure I’m one of many.”

Throughout her expansive career, Franklin’s music punctuated pivotal moments for individuals but also for the country.

James Miller of Milwaukee, 71, said: “I’m a Vietnam veteran, she brought us home because we listened to Aretha when we were in combat. She’s a queen, she did a lot of things for people that a lot of people don’t know.”

Franklin’s hits, ranging from Rock Steady to Ain’t No Way, echoed through the crowd. People danced, laughed and smiled while sharing their favorite memories of the singer. The doors of the museum opened at 9am and people trickled in. Many made a tearful exit after paying their respects.

Aretha Franklin ~ Rock Steady 1971 Funky Purrfection Version

Aretha Franklin – Ain’t No Way [1968]

Photo:  pwait in line outside the museum where Aretha Franklin will lie for two days of public viewing in Detroit, Michigan. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters.

Paula Marie Seniors said the setting for the public viewings could not be more fitting. An associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech, he said Franklin was “being honored almost like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States”.

Seniors said Franklin was “a singer of the universe” but also “so unapologetically black” and “so proud of being a black woman”.
In 2005, the museum hosted a similar viewing for the civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

Franklin, a preacher’s daughter, first topped the charts in 1967 with Respect, her no-nonsense reworking of a modest hit for Otis Redding that became an enduring anthem for feminism and the civil rights movement.

Aretha Franklin – Respect [1967] (Original Version)

Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Ronald Isley and Stevie Wonder, among others, are due to sing at Franklin’s funeral on Friday at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. Bill Clinton, who had Franklin sing at his 1993 inauguration celebrations, will be among the speakers. She also sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Aretha Franklin – Day Dreaming

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee but moved to Michigan as a small child, as the city became a refuge for black Americans escaping racist Jim Crow segregation laws.

The city, which would become synonymous with the secular outgrowth of gospel music known as soul, is treating Franklin’s death as the passing of royalty, with a week of mourning including a free tribute concert at a park on Thursday evening.

While Friday’s funeral will be closed to the public, the streets outside are due to be lined with dozens of pink Cadillacs, the Detroit-built luxury cars. Franklin sang of cruising through the city in a pink Cadillac in her 1985 hit Freeway of Love, which earned her one of her 18 Grammy awards.

Read entire article here

The Washington Post – Meagan Flynn – 30 Aug 2018 – Aretha’s last ride: The vintage hearse that carried Rosa Parks will now bear the Queen of Soul

EZLMPPACLQ4ONEYZ2TAAPPDJSEPhoto: The 1940 Cadillac LaSalle that will carry Aretha Franklin to the cemetery, seen Wednesday outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. (Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE).

When Aretha Franklin is laid to rest Friday, she’ll travel as she did all her life: with grace and glamour.

The hearse that will carry her is a regal, pearly-white 1940 LaSalle, made by Cadillac, with sparkling chrome detail that looked as though it had been custom-made for the Queen of Soul herself. For the last 50 years, it’s been reserved at Swanson Funeral Home for some of the Motor City’s most stately send-offs.

The ivory hearse carried Rosa Parks in 2005, when the pallbearers pushed the antique vehicle with all their might on the final stretch toward the civil rights hero’s grave at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery. It transported the Temptations baritone David Ruffin in 1991 and Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops in 2008. And it ushered Franklin’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, in 1984.

Photo: Aretha’s sister Carol, Franklin’s father the Rev. C.L. Franklin and Aretha Franklin.

Through it all, O’Neil D. Swanson II has been the man behind the scenes at every occasion. Swanson, the octogenarian funeral director at Swanson Funeral Home, has owned the business since 1958, and has been close to the Franklin family for years, he told The Washington Post.

When the Rev. Franklin died, Swanson was at Aretha Franklin’s side, escorting her in his white tuxedo at the funeral service, the Detroit Free Press reported in 2005. On Tuesday morning, he was there for her again, behind the wheel of the hearse as it glided up to the front doors of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Swanson stepped out to greet a group of white-gloved pallbearers, and the men opened the hearse’s back door, emblazoned with the Swanson family name on the exterior and a white dove on the interior. Before an audience of hundreds, they lifted the gleaming, gold-plated casket from the LaSalle’s bed with care and brought Franklin inside.

For Swanson, driving the Queen of Soul is personal.

10_The-casket-arrives-at-the-Charles-H-Wright-Museum-of-Afric -

“We had a lot of love and respect for Aretha,” Swanson said. “I’ve known her many, many years. Her father and I were close, and so it’s a privilege for us to be servicing her and her family.”

Swanson was two years out of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science when he founded the funeral home in 1958. He said he bought the hearse several years later, knowing it was a treasure the moment he saw it. The LaSalle was a sub-brand of Cadillac from 1927 to 1940, making Swanson’s hearse one of the last of the model.

“I guess I have a liking for vintage cars — classic cars,” he said. “We’ve been very attentive to it over the years.”


As Swanson built the business, his funeral home grew to become a “Detroit institution that has shepherded thousands of residents far above and beyond 8 Mile and guided families and communities through their grief,” as the Detroit Free Press described it in 2005, ahead of Parks’s funeral. Over the years, the Free Press reported, Swanson has provided scholarships to low-income students and donated to churches and various civic organizations.


The funeral home has even attracted good deeds from Franklin herself. Linda Swanson, the funeral home’s vice president, told the Associated Press that Franklin would often pay for the funeral expenses of needy families — often “in full without being asked or prompted to do so.”


Franklin has lain in repose this week at the Charles H. Wright African American Museum and will do so on Thursday at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, her father’s church. On Tuesday, Franklin was dressed in a stunning crimson-red lace dress with matching patent leather red pumps, the Detroit Free Press reported. On Wednesday, she wore a powder-blue dress with shoes to match.

“She is presented in a way that reflects her life and her legacy,” Linda Swanson told the Free Press. “She is, indeed, resplendent in repose, as a queen should be.”


Franklin’s funeral, a private event, will take place Friday, featuring speakers such as Smokey Robinson, former president Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and recording mogul Clive Davis.

Then Franklin will take her final ride. The 1940 LaSalle is expected to carry her down 7 Mile and Woodward Avenue, bringing her to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery amid a procession of more than 100 vehicles, and more than a few pink Cadillacs.

Read entire article here

Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Prayer

PS I was surprised by how much Aretha’s passing has effected me–really sad. So glad that we have her music to comfort us. RIP, Aretha, thanks for all the great music, performances, telling it like it is and making real music for real people to enjoy!

Posted by Teri Perticone


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