DETROIT – Fans paid their respects en masse Wednesday to US music icon and „Queen of Soul“ Aretha Franklin, whose body lay in a golden casket while dressed in a red dress and matching stilettos in Detroit.
The 76-year-old singer, beloved by millions around the world, died of cancer on August 16, closing the curtain on a glittering six-decade career that made her one of America’s most celebrated artists.
Thousands of people are expected to bid her farewell at the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History on Wednesday and Thursday, at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church on Friday and a star-studded funeral on Saturday.
White-gloved, sharp-suited pallbearers escorted her casket into the museum for the first of two days of 9:00 am to 9:00 pm viewing, where she lay in state surrounded by enormous clouds of pink, white and purple roses.
„I broke down when I seen her. She was beautiful,“ said nurse Monique Valentine. „It was just an awesome experience. I was glad to be here.“
The gospel, soul and R&B star influenced generations of female singers from the late Whitney Houston to Beyonce with unforgettable hits including „Respect“ (1967), „Natural Woman“ (1968) and „I Say a Little Prayer“ (1968).
People camped out through the night to pay their respects to a woman considered royalty in her Michigan hometown of Detroit, and traveled from far and wide, at times breaking into song or wearing Aretha T-shirts.
They queued down the street and around the block, swaying to Franklin tracks or breaking into song and dance, with a steady flow trickling inside. – AFP