The city of Detroit on Thursday was filled with thousands of fans as they celebrate the life and extraordinary career of Aretha Franklin in a spectacular concert.
In honour of the Queen of Soul, more than 40 artists took to the stage paying tributes to her on the eve of her funeral.
The concert spanned the R&B, Gospel, Jazz and Blues, even classical genres in which Franklin excelled. Her grandchildren spoke briefly, delivering heartfelt thanks on behalf of their family and grandmother.
Franklin 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).
Free tickets were snapped up within minutes of being made available online at the 5,000-seat, waterfront outdoor Chene Park Amphitheatre, where Franklin herself had performed.
Performances included Franklin’s hits “Freeway of Love” — an anthem to the Motor City — and “Say A Little Prayer,” with an all-cast rendition of “Respect” scheduled to bring the house down in the finale.
Headliners included The Four Tops, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Angie Stone, while a gospel choir took everyone to church, rousing the crowd to their feet with an electric, upbeat performance of classics and a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Tasha Page-Lockhart.
The concert followed three days of public viewings of her open, golden casket that drew thousands — at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church, and the Charles H. Wright Museum for African-American History.
Franklin 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.
Former President Bill Clinton and Smokey Robinson will be speaking at her funeral service – today – with musical tributes from Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. Letters from Bush and Obama are expected to be read at the funeral.
Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and was known for her civil rights work, raising money for the cause and uplifting activists with her anthems.
The daughter of a prominent Baptist preacher and civil rights activist, Franklin sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the inaugurations of presidents Clinton and Barack Obama.
She was awarded America’s highest civilian honour by George W. Bush in 2005