DETROIT — Pink Cadillacs filled the street early Friday outside Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, and hundreds of fans lined up as they awaited the funeral of Aretha Franklin, who was dressed in a sparkling gold dress for her final outfit.
Dignitaries attending Friday’s service include Clive Davis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Holliday.
Franklin’s body arrived, in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse, more than two hours before the service was scheduled to start.
She was dressed in a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels for her final outfit — the fourth outfit Franklin has worn during a week of events leading up to her funeral.
Her casket was carried to the church that also took Franklin’s father, legendary minister C.L. Franklin, and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks to their final resting places at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the singer will join them.
The Pink Cadillacs outside refer to a Franklin hit from the 1980s, “Freeway of Love.”
Floral arrangements from such singers as Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and from the family of Otis Redding, whose “Respect” Franklin transformed and made her signature song, were set up in a hallway outside the sanctuary.
An arrangement from singer Sam Moore included a card that read, “You know I always adored and loved you to bits and pieces … Even when we would fuss.”
A processional of Franklin’s family and other loved ones filled the aisles of the Greater Grace Temple.
The church’s choir sang Franklin’s “Say a Little Prayer” and her version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as mourners arrived. When the diva’s family arrived, the song was “You Are The Source of My Strength.”
They filed past and paid their respects at Franklin’s open casket, where they saw her wearing a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels — her fourth and final outfit of the week.
Many in the pews ignored repeated calls of no phones permitted to take selfies with former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton as they filed in.
Family members surrounded the Franklin’s gold casket as it closed, marking the formal start of her funeral.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson comforted actress Cicely Tyson and Franklin’s family members comforted one another.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis began speaking nearly two hours after the ceremony had been slated to begin.
The church’s choir sang “Walk in the Light” as Ellis encouraged the congregation to sing along.
“It took a little time to get in here, but I believe the queen wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Ellis said.
He said everyone present would get a program, and joked they were likely to be available soon on eBay.