Aretha Franklin's funeral on Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit captivated the world as an emotion-filled tribute to the Queen of Soul. Franklin died of pancreatic cancer in Detroit on Aug. 16 at the age of 76. Here are five things you might not have known about the funeral:
1. The entire service was televised live on BET, BET Her, Bounce and The Word Network, and streamed live by participating Associated Press affiliates and other websites.
Although cable news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC showed parts of the funeral, those networks often interrupted the coverage to cover other breaking news, such as the funeral for Sen. John McCain, who died of brain cancer on Aug. 25. BET, BET Her, Bounce and The Word Network began their national coverage of Franklin's funeral service at 10 a.m. ET. Associated Press livestreamed the funeral for AP affiliates, and other websites livestreamed the event, such as BET.com, Bounce's streaming service Brown Sugar and Greater Grace Temple's website. In addition, several Detroit TV stations provided continuous live coverage of the funeral.
2. Members of the general public were allowed to attend the funeral.
Although it was widely reported that the funeral was open to only Franklin's family, friends and business associates, about 2,000 people from the general public were allowed to attend, according to Detroit's WXYZ-TV. Greater Grace Temple has a seating capacity of about 4,000 people. The funeral was still invitation-only for Franklin's people, but those from the general public who got into the funeral had to wait in line and were admitted on a first-come, first serve basis. The funeral followed a two-day public viewing of Franklin at Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Aug. 28-29.
3. Barack Obama was not there because he was in Washington, D.C., to deliver a eulogy at Sen. John McCain's funeral.
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of Franklin's most famous fans, and she performed for President Obama multiple times, including at his 2009 inauguration. Although Barack Obama could not attend Franklin's funeral, he sent a letter that was read at the service, as did former U.S. President George W. Bush, who couldn't attend Franklin's funeral for the same reason as Obama.
The performers at the funeral included Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Ronald Isley, Yolanda Adams, Faith Hill, Shirley Caesar, the Clark Sisters, Fantasia, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, the Williams Brothers, Jennifer Holliday, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Audrey DuBois Harris, Alice McAllister Tillman, Edward Franklin (one of Franklin's sons), the Aretha Franklin Orchestra and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir. In addition to members of Franklin's family, speakers at the event included Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cicely Tyson, T.D. Jakes, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Tyler Perry, Michael Eric Dyson, Smokey Robinson and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who attended with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The celebrity tributes to Franklin won't stop at her funeral. As previously reported, Sony Music Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis, one of the speakers at Franklin's funeral, is also planning an all-star tribute concert for Franklin that will take place on Nov. 14 at New York's Madison Square Garden. The concert's participants are to be announced.
4. At the funeral, Detroit leaders announced that one of the city's major venues would be named after Franklin.
Chene Park is an amphitheater in Detroit that has a capacity of about 6,000 people, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones announced at the funeral that the venue will be renamed, Aretha Franklin Park. As previously reported, several prominent R&B, jazz and gospel artists performed at "The People's Tribute to the Queen," a free concert organized by Franklin's family that took place Aug. 30 at the venue. Gladys Knight, Johnny Gill, the Four Tops and Angie Stone were among the performers. Several of those artists were also at Franklin's funeral.
According to USA Today, the celebrities who sent flowers also included Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Tom Joyner, Jimmy Fallon, Sam Moore, The Commodores, Don King, Mahalia Jackson, Frankie Beverly and Maze, The O'Jays, The Whispers and the Jackson family. The families of the late entertainers Ray Charles, James Brown, Barry White, Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield also sent flowers. Organizations that sent flowers included the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Ray Charles Foundation.