Aretha Franklin death: Singer’s body to go on public display during four-day celebration of Queen of Soul’s life

Open-casket viewing in museum to be followed by funeral and musical tribute featuring major stars

 

Aretha Franklin’s body will go on public display during a four-day celebration of her life in her hometown of Detroit.

Authorities are drawing up plans for a musical tribute featuring major performers as a fitting sendoff for the legendary soul singer, who died aged 76 on Thursday after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Her funeral has been scheduled for 31 August following a two-day public viewing of her open casket, relatives said.

Franklin, the preacher’s daughter who became the long-reigning Queen of Soul with such hits as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools”, was born in Memphis, Tennessee but grew up in Detroit after moving there with her family at the age of four.

Her body will lie in state for public viewing at the city’s Charles H Wright Museum of African American History on 28 and 29 August.

She will be laid to rest at the city’s Woodlawn Cemetery following a service for family, friends and invited guests at the nearby Greater Grace Temple.

The temple, which can seat up to 4,000 people, has previously hosted funerals for notable Detroit figures including African-American activist Rosa Parks and jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.

Musicians and other high-profile figures from around the world are expected to attend her funeral.

A family spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press that multiple public events were being planned to mark her death.

Local news channel WDIV-4 said organisers were working on a “musical tribute with major recording artists” at an as yet undecided venue.

Fans have been gathering at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church to pay their respects since Franklin’s death was announced on Thursday. Flowers, balloons and messages of tribute to the singer have been left outside the church.

Tributes have flooded in from stars including Dolly Parton, Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, Sir Elton John, Diana Ross and Oprah Winfrey.

“She was the original and she could sing anything,” said motown singer Smokey Robinson said. “They called her ‘the Queen of Soul’, but Aretha could sing anything you put in front of her: opera, soul, gospel, jazz, whatever it was.

“She knew that she was blessed to get the chance to live what she loved and live her dream,” he added.

The MTV Video Music Awards, which take place in New York on Monday, will feature a special tribute to Franklin.

Executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic tells said organisers were “working on a lot of different options” and wanted to find “the right tone and the right artist” to honour the Queen of Soul.

“Whether it’s a performance or spoken – just something that’s organic and done in a way that feels tonally right because it’s Aretha Franklin,” he added.

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