Aretha Franklin Fans kicked off a four-day celebration of the soul legend’s life and career in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday morning.
Fans from all over America lined the sidewalks surrounding the Charles H. Wright African American Museum, where the Queen of Soul’s body will lie in repose for two days, ahead of a memorial and funeral in the city she called home.
Steadily, devotees filed past the open gold-plated coffin to pay their respects to Aretha, who was dressed in a ruby red gown with matching shoes, as those waiting outside sang the icon’s songs.
Canovia Sharpton, a cousin of the Rev. Al Sharpton, was among the mourners who paid their respects on Tuesday. She told Billboard, “It’s solemn but we’re happy because we’re saying goodbye to a queen. It was very touching.”
Officials at the local Swanson Funeral Home helped to organize Aretha’s farewell services, and the company’s executive vice president, Linda Swanson, reveals they have worked closely with the singer’s family for years as the generous musician would often cover the burial costs for families in need without any publicity.
“(It was) usually in full without being asked or prompted to do so,” Swanson told The Associated Press.
Franklin’s body will be moved to the New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was once the pastor, for a private visitation on Thursday, ahead of an all-star memorial concert at Chene Park Amphitheater, featuring her friend Gladys Knight, The Four Tops, and Angie Stone.
Aretha’s funeral will take place on Friday at the Greater Grace Temple.