Art & Entertainment, DETROIT, FEATURE STORY

A Final Goodbye to the Queen

Hi, friends. I hope you had a good weekend. I know for me it was a sad one as we said a final goodbye to the Queen of Soul. As a big fan of her music, I took the time last week to pay my respects to Ms. Franklin by listening to her music, watching old interviews, and attending the tribute concert. I wasn’t able to attend the public viewing as I had hoped, but I am very grateful I had the opportunity to attend “A People’s Tribute to the Queen”.

We also attended Ms. Franklin’s funeral procession in Detroit. Travis and I originally planned to attend her funeral, but our van broke down on 8 Mile Road.

Unfortunately, our vehicle troubles as we were heading to Greater Grace Temple. So we decided to stay in the area and hang out near Baker’s Jazz Club on Livernois Road so we could see Ms. Franklin’s funeral procession.

Police cars lined up in front of Baker’s Jazz Club to prepare for Aretha Franklin’s funeral procession. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
Photo of people gathering at Baker’s for the funeral procession. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
“Loving Memories Aretha Respect” (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

We weren’t the only ones who had this idea because there were many fans who also waited on the side of the road for the funeral. People parked their cars either on the side of the road or at local businesses and gathered along Livernois and 8 Mile. 

We bought the kids Frosties from Wendy’s and put the little ones in the wagon. It kept them happy so we didn’t have to worry about them getting too antsy with us waiting. They did really well and they were excited to see so many people gathering around. Aretha Franklin music played loudly over a speaker and people were smiling and sharing the reasons why they loved the Queen of Soul so much.

I overheard one couple talking about their love for Aretha and I asked them if they could share their thoughts with me about Ms. Franklin. Jazz saxophone and flute musician Michael Fleming said Aretha Franklin was “a woman that was up on her craft. Didn’t read any music at all and she’s was the best of the best. The best singer in the world. Yes, she was.”

I think she’s a wonderful lady and I think she’s the Queen of Soul. I think many blacks should appreciate her and her music because her music brought a lot to all of our lives,” Willer Dean Clayton.

Michael Fleming and Willer Dean Clayton (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
Travis and the kids with their Frosties from Wendy’s. We were waiting for the Aretha Franklin funeral procession on Livernois Road.
I wore a pink dress in honor of the Queen of Soul.

As we were waiting, a police car came up and a female police officer announced to us, “Twenty-five minutes until you get to see the Queen.” More people started to fill up the sidewalk outside of Baker’s, and as I looked down Livernois Road, I noticed a crowd of people had also lined up along the road.

Soon we could see police lights in the distance. “Here she comes,” people started saying. “Get your phones out. Get your cameras ready,” one woman said next to me. Helicopters were circling above us and police officers riding motorcycles rode past us and turned right onto 8 Mile Road. People started cheering.

The police motorcade continued to go by us and then all of a sudden classic pink Cadillacs drove up. It was the 100+ pink Cadillacs that were part of Aretha Franklin’s funeral procession. “Freeway of Love” played on repeat outside of Baker’s Jazz Club as the pink Cadillacs drove by us. The drivers and passengers in the Cadillacs smiled and waved at the people.

Travis carried Zechariah on his shoulders as he pointed out the police cars to him. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

After the pink Cadillacs came the hearses. Two had beautiful flowers on the back of the vehicles. Next came the 1940s vintage hearse which held Aretha Franklin and her gold casket. People started cheering even louder and yelled, “QUEEN! QUEEN! We love you, Aretha! We love you, Ree Ree.” 

I started to tear up because it made me sad to know Ms. Franklin had died. I was also overcome with emotion because all of the people were cheering for her. Some were crying. “That’s how we do it in the D!” someone shouted.

Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra
Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra
The hearse carrying Aretha Franklin’s body was a vintage 1940s vintage Cadillac LaSalle. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
The 1940s Cadillac LaSalle transported Aretha Franklin’s body. It also carried Ms. Franklin’s father the Rev. C.L. Franklin when he passed away. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

The History of the Vintage Cadillac LaSalle

The 1940s vintage Cadillac LaSalle is very special because it was also used for three other legendary icons:

Pastor and Civil Rights Figure Rev. C.L. Franklin (1984)Ms. Franklin’s father

Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks (2005)

Temptations singer David Ruffin (1991)

According to CNN, Aretha Franklin’s casket is made of 24-karat gold. You can read more about the 1940s hearse by clicking here.

“A People’s Tribute to the Queen”

As promised, I am sharing more photographs from the Aretha Franklin tribute concert “A People’s Tribute to the Queen”. The tribute concert was held on Thursday, August 30, 2018, at Chene Park in Detroit. I had taken so many photographs of the concert that I wanted to share more photos in a separate piece.

To recap my previous article on the tribute concert, over 20 music artists and performers, performed at the show. The event was a free show for the public with tickets available online on a first come first serve basis. Within 15 minutes of opening the ticket reservations, the tribute concert was sold out.

The Detroit Divas performed many Aretha Franlin songs such as “Freeway of Love” and “Jump To It” at the tribute concert last week. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

The tribute concert was an amazing experience and truly a celebration of Ms. Franklin’s life and music. I had taken many photographs of the show that I wanted to share a second post with you. Consider it a “part two” to my first article on the tribute concert.

The show opened with a Classical Overture featuring songs “Ave Maria” performed by Nicole and “Nessun Dorma” performed by Roderick Dixon

Blues and Jazz Set

“Dr. Feelgood” performed by Joan Belgrave

“Sky Lark” performed by Dee Dee Bridgewater

“Til You Come Back To Me” performed by Jean Carne

“Sista Ree” performed by Ronnie McNair

It was a packed house at Chene Park on Thursday, August 30th, as Detroit honored the Queen of Soul with a tribute concert. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

Video tributes were also featured during the program as celebrities expressed their condolences to the family and shared their love and memories for Ms. Franklin. 

Featured in the video tributes were actress Vivica A. Fox, actress/singer Patti LaBelle, and record executive Berry Gordy.

Community leaders and celebrities also attended the Aretha Franklin tribute concert. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan were in attendance of the show, as well as, cast members from Tyler Perry’s television series The Haves and the Have Nots. 

Ms. Franklin’s son Eddie and her granddaughters Gracie and Victorie also took the stage to thank their family, friends, the city, and fans for the outpouring of love and support. 

“A People’s Tribute to the Queen” sold out within 15 minutes of opening! (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

Gospel Music Set

Santita Jackson, Tasha Page-Lockhart, and the 25 Voice Choir

“In The Sanctuary”

“The Presence Of The Lord Is Here”

“For Every Mountain”

“How I Got Over”

“Amazing Grace”

After the Gospel Music set, Lisa McCall and a dance company performed a very moving spiritual dance to a track of Aretha Franklin singing “Mary Don’t You Weep”.

Tasha Page-Lockhart sings “Amazing Grace” at the Aretha Franklin tribute Concert. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
A beautiful Gospel Music performance seemed only fitting for a tribute to the Queen of Soul. When Ms. Franklin was a young girl, she sang in the church. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
“Mary Don’t You Weep” 
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
“Mary Don’t You Weep”

Tyler Perry, Jenifer Lewis, Ericka Peeples and Judge Greg Mathis

Filmmaker Tyler Perry shared with the audience his memories of his friendship with Aretha Franklin. He said it amazed him that the Queen of Soul was a big fan of his work. He then introduced actress Jenifer Lewis to the stage. 

Ms. Lewis performed a song she had written in honor of Ms. Franklin. “All Hail the Queen!” Jenifer exclaimed as she encouraged the audience to chant along with her.

Tyler Perry shared a few special memories of his friendship with Aretha Franklin. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
Actress Jenifer Lewis performed an original song she wrote in honor of the Queen. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
Ms. Lewis’ performance at the tribute concert was superb! (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)
Judge Greg Mathis
Ericka Peeples 

R&B Tribute Featuring Aretha Franklin’s Top Hits

The “Detroit Diva’s” performed Ms. Franklin’s hit songs during the tribute concert. Wearing beautiful, yellow dresses the singers performance made me imagine what it would be like to see Aretha Franklin perform live. With her entourage of backup singers and dancers, I bet it was an unforgettable sight to see!

“Freeway of Love” performed by All Cast featuring Narada Michael and Dave McMurray

“Chain of Fools” performed by Angela Davis

“Think” performed by Kimmie Horne

“Rose Is Still A Rose” performed by Gwen Foxx

“Say a Little Prayer” performed by Z

“Something He Can Feel” performed by Kiko 

“Day Daydreaming” performed by Beth Griffith and the George Daison Dancers

“Natural Woman” performed by Cherri Black

“Willing to Forgive You” performed by Steffinie Christian

“Until You Come Back To Me” performed by Aneasha Birchett

“Never Loved A Man” performed by Tasha Page-Lockhart

“Jump To It” performed by the entire cast

The Detroit Divas 
The Detroit Divas’ performance was amazing! 
Kiko sings “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” and it was such a good performance! 

All-Star Tribute to Aretha Franklin

R&B singers such as Keith Washington and Angie Stone also honored the Queen of Soul. Johnny Gill won over all of the ladies with his famous love song “My, My, My” and his rendition of Ms. Franklin’s song “Ain’t No Way had us on our feet and waving our hands in the air.

“You’re My Greatest Inspiration” performed by Keith Washington

“Brotha” and “No More Rain” performed by Angie Stone

“Call Me” performed by L.J. Reynolds

“Woman” performed by Raheem DaVaughn

“Rock Steady” performed by Regina Belle

“My, My, My” and “Ain’t No Way” performed by Johnny Gill

Special performances by The Four Tops

Keith Washington
Angie Stone
Angie Stone
L.J. Reynolds from the Dramatics
Raheem DaVaughn
Raheem DaVaughn
Regina Belle
Regina Belle
Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill
The Four Tops
The Four Tops
The Four Tops


The tribute concert closed with all of the singers gathering together on stage to sing “Respect”. The audience moved forward to get closer to the stage and sing along with the singers. We danced and laughed as we sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” together.

“A People’s Tribute to the Queen” was a beautiful tribute to Aretha Franklin and it will be one I will never forget. Special thanks again to Chene Park Detroit for giving Good Life Detroit the opportunity to attend Ms. Franklin’s tribute concert.

Also, check out: Aretha, the Queen of Soul and Interview with Will Catlett.

All photographs were taken by Jennifer Hamra.

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