Detroit Temple Fills With Laughter as Bill Clinton Recounts Awestruck Encounter With Aretha, While Jennifer Hudson Sings Her Heart Out for the Queen of Soul Ahead of Stevie Wonder’s Closing Tribute

Jennifer Hudson had people on their feet as she belted out Amazing Grace at Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Friday, after Bill Clinton brought the audience to tears with his moving tribute.

Hudson, who is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic, wowed the crowd at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance which had people swaying and raising their hands in the air.

The stunning rendition came after Bishop Charles H. Ellis III introduced Clinton as ‘the first black President of the United States’.

Clinton said he and wife Hillary, who attended the funeral with him, had long been avid fans of the soul singer.

‘We started out not as President and First Lady, but as Aretha groupies or something,’ he joked.

He said Franklin’s power to pull a crowd was: ‘Not because she had this breathtaking talent, not because she grew up a princess of soul, but because she lived with courage. Not without fear, but overcoming her fears.’

Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance

Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance

Hudson had people swaying on their feet and raising their hands in the air as she belted out Amazing Grace at the funeral

Hudson had people swaying on their feet and raising their hands in the air as she belted out Amazing Grace at the funeral

People were on their feet as Jennifer Hudson performed. She is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic

People were on their feet as Jennifer Hudson performed. She is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic

Bill Clinton spoke about his friend Aretha Franklin and how hard she worked to get her big break

Bill Clinton spoke about his friend Aretha Franklin and how hard she worked to get her big break

Clinton ended his speech by playing Franklin's 'Think' off his phone into the microphone

Clinton ended his speech by playing Franklin’s ‘Think’ off his phone into the microphone

He told the congregation before they were President and First Lady, he and Hillary were 'Aretha groupies'

He told the congregation before they were President and First Lady, he and Hillary were ‘Aretha groupies’

‘She lived with faith… she lived with power. I just loved her,’ he said. ‘The secret of her greatness was she took this massive talent, and this perfect culture that raised her, and decided to be the composer of this massive song.’

Clinton could not resist throwing in a joke about Franklin’s flamboyant wardrobe, remarking: ‘I was so happy when I got here and the casket was still open, I got to think: “I wonder what my friend has on today”.’

The former President closed by explaining he didn’t love and respect Franklin for her talent, but for what she did with it, and how she treated others in the face of unimaginable success.

‘She cared about broken people, she cared about people who were disappointed… about people who didn’t succeed as much as she did,’ he said.

‘And she worked her can off to get where she was. She took the gifts God gave her, and they just kept getting a little bigger every day.’

The former President finally cut himself off, having gone well over his time allotment, by playing Franklin’s ‘Think’ on his phone.

Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week

Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week

Franklin's coffin was taken down a red carpet ahead of her star-studded funeral

Franklin’s coffin was taken down a red carpet ahead of her star-studded funeral

Cameras and onlookers were seen crowding around the red carpet as the Queen of Soul was taken into the church

Cameras and onlookers were seen crowding around the red carpet as the Queen of Soul was taken into the church

Franklin was carried down a red carpet in to Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday morning in a gold plated casket, wearing a gold, full length dress ahead of her star-studded funeral.

The Queen of Soul was brought to the church in a white Cadillac LaSalle hearse that once carried civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, and also her own father legendary minister CL Franklin.

The hearse will pick her up again to take her body to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Parks and her father were also buried.

As crowds gathered outside the church to say their goodbyes, six men were seen carrying Franklin out of the 1940s hearse and into the church, while another two stood behind them.

The pallbearers were seen wheeling the coffin down what would be Franklin’s last ever red carpet, as guests began to arrive at her service.

Inside the coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels – her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing.

As guests walked into the church, and thousands waited out the front to find out if they would be among the lucky 1,000 members of the public permitted entry, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra sang.

Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin

Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin

Inside her gold-plated coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels - her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing

Inside her gold-plated coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels – her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing

Pictured: Aretha Franklin’s casket is closed for the last time by three men wearing gloves

Speakers at the service were seen sitting at the front while host E.L. Banch ran through housekeeping rules for trying to stay on schedule

Speakers at the service were seen sitting at the front while host E.L. Banch ran through housekeeping rules for trying to stay on schedule

Flowers sit atop the casket during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple on Friday

Flowers sit atop the casket during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple on Friday

Among the high profile guests were Whoopi Goldberg, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ariana Grande, boxer Tommy Hearns, Motown star Martha Reeves and Jesse Jackson.

State troopers came to pay their respects in full uniform before her family entered to say their final goodbyes.

As the Orchestra sang, three men in gloves slowly closed the casket for the last time, with two women by their sides.

Starting more than an hour behind schedule, host and family friend Bishop Ellis told the packed-out church: ‘We will do our best not to waste time, but we will take the necessary time to honor this great woman’.

In the prayer of comfort, Dr. E.L. Branch, senior pastor of Detroit’s Third New Hope Baptist Church, who worked with Franklin’s father, thanked God for the Queen.

‘Thank you Lord for Aretha. She was first Detroit’s, then America’s, and then the world’s,’ he said.

‘An image of hope larger than life. A soldier, a trooper, an encourager, a good and faithful servant.’

Faith Hill made the first musical tribute of the day, singing ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’ with the official orchestra.

The song, performed after a reading of the Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm, had many on their feet dancing and clapping.

Faith Hill kicked off the musical tributes with an energetic rendition of ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’

Pictured: A mourner holds a program during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple

Pictured: A mourner holds a program during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told the congregation he would be moving to rename the city’s famed Chene Park to Aretha Franklin Park as soon as council met again.

‘Our beautiful waterfront jewel will be Aretha Franklin Park, and when performers for generations to come arrive, they will be reminded they are performing at the home of the Queen of Soul,’ he told the cheering crowd.

Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council President, seconded the motion, and also announced a second street had been named after the singer.

Council member JoAnn Watson said Franklin was always eager to share her wealth with her community, and was never too good to do anything herself.

‘She would ride the streets of Detroit, quietly taking notice of people with special needs and making donations,’ Watson said.

‘She will forever be our Queen.’

Remarks began with local politicians before Ariana Grande sang Franklin's song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Remarks began with local politicians before Ariana Grande sang Franklin’s song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Ariana Grande's performance was well received, with the audience breaking into rapturous applause when she finished 

Ariana Grande’s performance was well received, with the audience breaking into rapturous applause when she finished

Rev. Jesse Jackson is seen confronting a family member near Franklin's casket 

Reverend Al Sharpton told of the time Franklin went on an 11-city tour to raise money for Martin Luther King, who was struggling to fund his payroll.

‘She represented the best of our community and she fought for our community until the end,’

‘She gave us pride and she gave us a regal bar to reach. She fought for everybody. Aretha never took orders from nobody but God.’

At some points, his remarks became less rooted in the past and more in the present.

Recognizing her work in standing up for those who could not do it for themselves, Sharpton stood up for Franklin – against Trump.

‘The other Sunday on my show, I misspelled respect. And a lot of you all corrected me. And now I want you to help me correct President Trump to teach him what it means.’

He referenced Trump’s memorial comments about Franklin working for him, responding: ‘No’.

‘She performed for you,’ he yelled. ‘She worked for us.’

Reverend Al Sharpton (pictured) passionately spoke of Aretha's work for the civil rights movement, and rebuked Trump during his speech

Reverend Al Sharpton (pictured) passionately spoke of Aretha’s work for the civil rights movement, and rebuked Trump during his speech

Rev. Sharpton finished by reading out a letter sent in by Barack Obama, where he shared his love for the Queen of Soul.

‘From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice,’ he wrote.

‘Aretha’s work reflected the very best of the American story.

‘While the music she made captured some of out deepest human desires, through her voice Aretha lifted the voices of millions; the downtrodden, the vulnerable or maybe someone who just needed a little boost.’

Click here to read more.
Source: Daily Mail