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Aretha Franklin's funeral gets under way in Detroit

Aretha Franklin's funeral gets under way in Detroit

Stars including Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson have arrived at Aretha Franklin's funeral in Detroit, Michigan.

Guests and speakers began arriving for Friday's (31Aug18) service at the city's Greater Grace Temple church from 8 am, with those present including Smokey, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson, Tyler Perry, and Stevie, who is to give a reading of the Lord's Prayer.

Her body was delivered to the church in a 24-carat gold-plated casket made of solid bronze -matching the sparkling full-length gold dress and sequinned heels she has been dressed in for the funeral. The hearse that transported her to be laid to rest was a white 1940 LaSalle hearse - which was also used for the funerals of her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, The Temptations singer David Ruffin and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

The street outside the church was lined with pink Cadillacs - a nod to the lyrics of her song Freeway of Love. Car loads of flowers arrived, including a bouquet of red roses from Barbra Streisand addressed to "a sister gone too soon".

Before her death aged 76 from pancreatic cancer earlier this month, the soul superstar asked Reverend Jasper Williams Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia to conduct her eulogy.

Ahead of the ceremony he told Atlanta news station CBS 46: "Anybody out there who's listening to me that knows anything about praying, if you would just ask God to give me the words, the wisdom, the knowledge and, above all, the understanding to be able to give her justice at that pulpit when I try to eulogise her."

Jennifer, who was handpicked by the Queen of Soul to play her in a hotly anticipated biopic, will sing Amazing Grace for mourners, while Faith and Ariana are also performing during the six hour service.

Earlier this week the singer lay in state for two days at Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Soul stars, led by The Four Tops, also honoured Aretha by performing at a special tribute concert on Thursday. Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and soul diva Patti Labelle sent videotaped remarks that were broadcast to crowds at the event.

The tribute show ended with a mass performance of Aretha's anthem Respect. The event was part of a week-long celebration of her life held in Detroit which came to an end on Friday. 

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