Former presidents and musical royalty paid homage to Aretha Franklin at her burial filled with stars on Friday, taking her family and the public to say goodbye to the "Queen of the Soul" of the United States.
The service, a celebration of life and the legacy of an icon, was full of uplifting, encouraging and humorous anecdotes at the Great Grace Temple in Detroit.
The 76-year-old singer, loved by millions of people around the world, died of cancer on August 16, closing the curtain on a brilliant six-decade career spanning gospel, R & B, jazz, blues and even classical music.
The former president of EE. UU Bill Clinton exalted his gifts, courage and compassion, sharing his memory of his final public performance, in November of 2017, when he was already ill, but he acted with enthusiasm.
"I hope God forgives me, but I was so happy when I got here, and I hope you forgive me, when the coffin was still open because I said I wonder what my friend will have done today," he said laughing.
Franklin wore a different outfit for each of the three days of public visits, visited by thousands in his hometown of Michigan. For the funeral, she was dressed in a shiny gold dress.
"You should remember at this time about this magnificent woman, she worked her can to get to where she was, she took the gift that God gave her and it got bigger every day," Clinton said, playing a bit of her singing. Think "on your cell phone.
"It's the key to freedom, God bless you, Aretha, we love you."
The letters of George W. Bush and Barack Obama were read, praising his contribution to the United States. Gospel music and opera filled the beams, members of the congregation danced and one of their children sang "Mercy Mercy Me".
& # 39; Our queen & # 39;
Franklin's golden coffin was on a platform dressed in white, flanked by huge lavender flowers, roses and roses, in the center of a church crowded with mourners.
"I miss you my friend, I miss you my friend, I know my love for you will never end, it will never end," singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson sang of his childhood friend before throwing a kiss towards his coffin.
Ariana Grande was driven by Franklin's success in 1968's "Natural Woman," with more expected tributes from Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson.
"I'm so proud of you, I know you'll be watching me from the windows of heaven and I promise to take my family's legacy with pride," said Franklin's grandson, Jordan, shattered. "Long live the Queen."
While television stars and politicians mingled inside, the fans lined up at night in their funeral galas or Aretha shirts, desperate to be among the 1,000 members of the public allowed in the service.
Dozens of people gathered around a large screen to broadcast the funeral at a nearby gas station, reclining on beach chairs or standing in the sun, clapping and laughing at all the speeches.
"It's better than Opening Day!" said Theresa Cranford, 62, a retired auto worker, referring to the inauguration of Barack Obama.
"This is something I'm going to be in the story about," he told AFP. "We do not have queens and kings in America, so she is our queen."
Detroit will change the name of Chene Park, the amphitheater by the river that offered a tribute concert for her on Thursday, in honor of Franklin.
He influenced generations of singers from the late Whitney Houston to Beyonce, with unforgettable hits such as "Respect" (1967) and "I Say a Little Prayer" (1968).
Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards and was honored for her work in favor of civil rights, raising money for the cause and inspiring activists with her hymns.
She was chosen as the best singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. For African-American women in particular, she was a role model and a point of reference for success, feminism and empowerment.
Pink Cadillacs – some driven all over the country – stationed en masse outside the church, are expected to follow their procession to the cemetery where they will be buried with their father and brothers.
They are a nod to his 1985 hit "Freeway of Love," a hymn to his hometown of Motor City, in which Franklin sang about the car, made by a company founded in Detroit in 1902.
Franklin is expected to make his last trip on the same 1940 ivory that Cadillac LaSalle used at his father's funeral and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Daughter of a prominent Baptist preacher and civil rights activist, she sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as at the inaugurations of Presidents Clinton and Obama.
It was awarded the highest civil honor in the United States by President Bush in 2005.