Detroit — Former presidents and preachers joined a parade of singers on Friday in a hip-swaying, piano-pounding farewell to Aretha Franklin, remembering the Queen of Soul as a powerful force for musical and political change and a steadfast friend and family member.
"Aretha's singing challenged the dangling discords of hate and lies and racism and injustice," the pastor William J. Barber II said. "Her singing was revelation and was revolution."
In a send-off both grand and personal, a celebrity lineup of mourners filled the same Detroit church that hosted Rosa Parks' funeral and offered prayers, songs and dozens of tributes. Guests included former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.
Robinson, the Motown great, remembered first hearing Franklin play piano when he was just 8, and he remained close to her for the rest of her life. They talked for hours at a time.
"You're so special," he said, before crooning a few lines from his song Really Gonna Miss You, with the line "really gonna be different without you."
Late on Friday, Franklin was laid to rest in a mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery, the final resting place of her father and two of her sisters.