With the rest of the world looking on, Detroit is bidding farewell to Aretha Franklin this afternoon with a touching funeral ceremony at the city’s Greater Grace Temple.
Franklin, who died on August 16th from pancreatic cancer, is being remembered by guest speakers like Smokey Robinson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and former President Bill Clinton, as well as musicians such as Ariana Grande, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder.
Grande reached for the skies with her knockout rendition of “Natural Woman”, followed by Khan’s inspiring performance of the gospel classic “Goin’ Up Yonder”. Those all led up to Wonder’s appearance, which featured a stunning rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” and an electrifying performance of “As”
“We will have never known a Queen like this, we will have never known the joy she gave to us,” he told the crowd. Watch the complete performance below.
A legend in his own right, the 68-year-old Wonder has long considered the Queen of Soul a friend and, during his youth, even attended masses at her father’s local church. Wonder also co-penned Franklin’s 1973 Top 10 hit, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”.
Wonder had visited Franklin in the days before her death. “She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me, and so I just said all the things that I’ve always said and told her to say hello to my sister – that I lost this year as well,” Wonder recounted to CBS.
“But you know, she did incredible music, incredible singer. She touched every genre. Every singer was influenced in some way by the way she sang, and they will forever be influenced by her because of her voice, her emotion, her sincerity is unforgettable.” According to The Independent, Wonder intended on collaborating with Franklin.
Today’s funeral follows weeks of tributes (Clive Davis, Paul McCartney, Elton John) to the music legend. After the ceremony, Franklin’s body will be laid to rest at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.