Read the incredibly touching letter Barack Obama wrote for Aretha Franklin.
Aretha Franklin's funeral was a "homegoing" ceremony fit for a queen.
The service at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple featured musical performances by Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, and Chaka Khan. As well as spoken tributes from former President Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, and Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Clinton gave a warm remembrance of Franklin:
“This woman got us all in the seats today not because of her music, but because she lived with courage. Not without fear, but overcoming her fears. She lived with faith — not without failure, but overcoming her failures. She lived with power — not without weakness but overcoming her weaknesses. I just love her.”
He also make a comment about Franklin’s numerous wardrobe changes over her multi-day public viewing.
Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent letters to be read at the funeral. Bush’s letter, read by Franklin friend Barbara Simpson, remembered her as a “woman of achievement with a deep character and loving heart.”
Obama’s letter, read by Al Sharpton, received a received a standing ovation from attendees.
"Dear Friends and Family of Aretha:
Michelle and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those who have gathered in Detroit, and we join you in remembering and celebrating the life of the Queen of Soul.
From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice. Whether bringing people together through a thrilling intersection of genres or advancing important causes through the power of song, Aretha’s work reflected the very best of our American story – in all of its hope and heart, its boldness and its unmistakable beauty.
In the example she set, both as an artist and a citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation, while the music she made captured some of our deepest human desires: namely affection and respect. And through her own voice, Aretha lifted those of millions, empowering and inspiring the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and everyone who may have just needed a little love.
Aretha truly was one of a kind. And as you pay tribute, know we’ll be saying a little prayer for you. And we’ll be thinking of all of Aretha’s loved ones in the days and weeks to come.
Sincerely, Barack Obama"
Franklin was responsible for two touching moments during the Obama presidency.
Franklin gave a poignant performance of “America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)” at Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. There was no better voice to sing America’s praises as it took a historical step by electing its first black president.
In 2015, Franlink’s performance of “Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center honors brought Obama to tears.