Fans gather in Detroit to mourn the loss of the Queen of Soul

Fans gather in Detroit to mourn the loss of the Queen of Soul
The hearse that carried Franklin's body (Source: WMC Action News 5)
The hearse that carried Franklin's body (Source: WMC Action News 5)

DETROIT, MI (WMC) - Fans have gathered in Detroit to pay their respects to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.

Franklin passed away in her Detroit home on Aug. 16 at the age of 76.

The Memphis-born singer is being mourned by fans from all over the world in a public viewing at the Charles H. Wright Museum for African-American History in Detroit, where Franklin's larger than life legacy was on full display.

"She was very nice, very spiritual woman--not just for the music, but spiritual as a whole. And she loved her city, and she loved everybody. She made such an impact on our people," Atlanta resident Markita Burson said.

Fans came from around the world to Franklin's adopted hometown of Detroit to pass by the Queen of Soul's casket.

"Aretha, I want you to know how much we love you. Everybody loves you. And we just wanted to come and show how much we love her," Little Rock resident Virginia Burke said.

"The atmosphere, the beautiful flowers, you wouldn't expect anything less for the queen," Little Rock native Kimberly Mayberry said.

O'Neil Swanson II was tasked with preparing Franklin's body for the public visitation and private funeral. Wednesday, she wore a glittering blue chiffon gown and silver pumps--a wardrobe change from the day before.

"She deserved it. This is what she would have wanted. That's what we tried to do, put together a unique ceremony and experience," Swanson said.

"Respect" has been playing on repeat as well as so many other Franklin hits all day Wednesday, and not just at the public viewing, but in cafes and businesses all over Detroit.

On Thursday, fans will gather for a public concert in Franklin's honor with performances by Ron Isley, Gladys Knight, Johnny Gill, and Karen Clark-Sheard.

Franklin will be laid to rest Friday at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Many high-profile guests will be in attendance, including former presidents, superstar athletes, and A-list celebrities.

The funeral will feature performances by Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan, and more.

Former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Smokey Robinson are expected to speak during the service. A few other well-known attendees include LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey, Eric Holder, and Louis Farrakhan.

WMC Action News 5's Joy Redmond will have live coverage on the memorial from Detroit throughout the week.

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