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Aretha Franklin's funeral is taking place in Detroit

August 31, 2018 05:20 pm Updated: August 31, 2018 05:20 pm

The Queen of Soul will be laid to rest Friday following a funeral service in Detroit, the city she called home for most of her life.

Mourners - including former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Clive Davis - gathered Friday morning at the Greater Grace Temple for the funeral service of Aretha Franklin, who died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer at 76.

The 10 a.m. service was planned to conclude at 3 p.m. but is already running about an hour behind schedule. The funeral is not open to the public but is being broadcast on TV and streamed live online, including in the video player above.

Many of the biggest names in music, including countless gospel stars, are scheduled to perform; songs will be offered by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson.

Several famous associates, including Robinson and Davis, will share personal reflections. Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have sent a letter that will be read by Rev. Al Sharpton.

Clinton, who is also speaking, entered the sanctuary with Hillary Clinton, greeted by warm applause. Others in attendance include Whoopi Goldberg; Grande's fiance, comedian Pete Davidson; and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Several other noted musicians also sent floral arrangements, including Diana Ross, Elton John and Barbra Streisand, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Prior to the arrival of the family and casket bearing Franklin, several songs from the Queen of Soul's vast catalog played in the sanctuary, including "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "I Say a Little Prayer for You." As the choir sang a rousing rendition of the gospel song "Marvelous," mourners sprang to their feet and sang along.

Just before 11 a.m., the family entered the Greater Grace Temple, as gospel musician Richard Smallwood played the piano.

The iconic singer received nearly every major award one could receive during her lifetime. That included being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts and 18 Grammys.

Franklin was transported to the service by the same 1940 Cadillac LaSalle that carried Rosa Parks and Franklin's father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

Friday's funeral follows several days of tributes, including a Thursday evening concert and a public viewing at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Franklin had been dressed in four different outfits throughout the week, according to the Associated Press. She will be laid to rest wearing a full-length gold dress with sequined heels.


The Washington Post's Bethonie Butler and Sonia Rao contributed to this report.