Aretha Franklin's Funeral: Guests Arrive to the Detroit Ceremony
By Rachel McRady
Crowds started gathering early Friday morning at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, for the funeral of Aretha Franklin.
After a three-day public viewing, which featured three outfit changes for the Queen of Soul, it was finally time to lay her to rest. Though the public had been camped out for days, celebrity guests began arriving to the service site around 8:30 a.m. ET.
Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer was one of the first to arrive, telling reporters the main thing that came to mind when the name Aretha Franklin was heard was her hometown of Detroit. The Reverend Jesse Jackson showed up to Greater Grace Temple not long after the mayor, and urged Franklin's fans to follow in her footsteps and work toward social change.
"I'm very emotional. I'm very sad," Jackson told reporters. "She was as active and involved in the Civil Rights struggle as Dr. King."
He added of his late friend, "She was so humble of spirit, she would never have imagined this turnout around the world."
Tyler Perry arrived almost an hour before the ceremony was set to begin. The filmmaker spoke at Thursday night's tribute concert to Franklin.
Boxer Tommy Hearns, Detroit Pistons star Isaiah Thomas, and Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers were also among the early arrivals.
Singer Jennifer Holliday was visibly emotional ahead of the ceremony, talking about being the final performance at the funeral.
"My voice will be the last voice as her body is carried out of the sanctuary and they start for the processional," she told reporters. "My voice over the queen as she's going to her final resting place. This is the greatest honor of my life to have known her, that she thought I was somebody too."
Omarosa Manigault tweeted that she was on her way to the service as she passed the 100 pink Cadillacs outside the service.
Former President Bill Clinton arrived with his wife and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and appeared to be going over his notes after it was confirmed that he will speak at the special occasion.
Hillary was spotted chatting at length with Ariana Grande, who will perform at the ceremony. The 25-year-old pop star -- dressed in a black dress and sporting a high ponytail -- brought along her fiance, Pete Davidson, who wore a black suit for the occasion.
The stars were proceeded by 100 pink Cadillacs, which formed a processional to the ceremony, and Franklin's caskett, which was carried inside by seven pallbearers.
"There will be laughing, some tears, some joy, some sorrow," Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, told ET of the funeral plans earlier this week. "I think there will be some up hands clapping and feet dancing. I think it's going to be a very jubilant experience."
On Thursday night, a tribute concert was held in Franklin's honor at Chene Park's riverfront amphitheater, and featured performances by Gladys Knight, The Four Tops, and more.
Franklin passed away on Aug. 16 at the age of 76.
For more on her life and legacy, watch the clip below: