They gon’ lay Aretha Franklin’s burdens down in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 31. And it’s going to happen in tremendous fashion. Her body has already seen outfit changes fit for a woman whose fashion stylings were as much a part of her charm as her take-no-prisoners attitude about the industry.
Queen Aretha is being sent home to see the King with a funeral fit for a woman whose mark on the community and culture at large has yet to be fully realized. She is the Queen of Soul for a reason. And you don’t get to be the Queen if your legacy ends when you expire. Every accolade and call for appreciation and celebration at her homegoing will be warranted and necessary.
But if you’re going to this here funeral in person, well, I hope you have all of the snacks and make sure to bring plenty of water because while the service is already scheduled to be as long as the Easter Sunday service at a southern Baptist church with a new pastor trying to prove himself (9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), I’d bet good money that it will last at least 12 hours. And I’m not even being facetious.
Have you seen this schedule? If not, let me share it with you. Here is the full list of speakers and performers slated to appear, according to Detroit’s WDIV4:
- 9:30-9:50 a.m.: Musical Prelude: Aretha Franklin Orchestra
- 9:50-10:00 a.m.: Lighting of Candles: Swanson Funeral Home, Inc.
- 10:00-10:20 a.m.: Processional: Clergy, Ministers and Family
- 10:20-10:25 a.m.: Prayer of Comfort: Dr. E.L. Branch, Pastor, Third New Hope Church
- 10:25-10:40 a.m.: Scripture of Comfort: 10:25 a.m.: Old Testament: Bishop T.D. Jakes, Potter’s House, Dallas 10:30 a.m.: New Testament: Pastor Solomon Kinloch, Triumph Church; 10:35 a.m.: The Psalm: Bishop P.A. Brooks, Pastor, New St. Paul Tabernacle Church
- 10:40-10:45 a.m.: Musical Tribute: Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir
- 10:45-10:49 a.m.: Musical Tribute: Faith Hill
- 10:49-11:03 a.m.: Remarks: 10:49 a.m.: Brenda Jones, City Council President, 10:51 a.m.: JoAnn Watson, Detroit City Council 10:53 a.m.: Mike Duggan, Mayor, City of Detroit 10:57 a.m.: Governor Rick Snyder, State of Michigan
- 11:03-11:08 a.m.: Musical Tribute: Ariana Grande
- 1108-11:13 a.m.: Musical Tribute: The Clark Sisters
- 11:13-11:18 a.m: Acknowledgements and Condolences: Barbara Sampson
- 11:18-11:23 a.m.: Musical Tribute: The Williams Brothers & Vanessa Bell Armstrong
- 11:23-11:40 a.m.: Family Reflections: Vaughn, Cristal Victorie and Jordan Franklin
- 11:40-11:45 a.m.: Family Musical Tribute: Edward Franklin
- 11:45-11:50 a.m.: Obituary: Sabrina Owens
- 11:50-11:55 a.m.: Musical Tribute: Alice McAllister Tillman
- 11:55-12:00 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Audrey DuBois Harris
- 12:00-12:15 p.m.: Personal Remarks 12:00 p.m.: Eric Holder, Former U.S. Attorney General 12:10 p.m.: Former President, William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton
- 12:15-12:19 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Pastor Shirley Caesar and Tasha Cobbs-Leonard
- 12:19-12:36 p.m.: Personal Reflections 12:19 p.m.: Greg Mathis, Retired Judge, 36th District Court, Detroit, MI 12:23 p.m.: Brenda Lawrence, US Representative, 14th Congressional District 12:27 p.m.: Rev. Donald L. Parsons, Logos Assembly Church, Chicago, IL 12:31 p.m.: Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder, National Action Network
- 12:36-12:41 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Chaka Khan
- 12:41-12:51 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Ron Isley
- 12:51 p.m.: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder/President Rainbow P.U.S.H. Coalition
- 1:00 p.m.: Dr. William J. Barber, II, Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsborough N.C.
- 1:05 p.m.: Rev. James Holley, Retired Pastor, New Light Missionary Baptist Church
- 1:10-1:15 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Fantasia Barrino-Taylor
- 1:15-1:30 p.m: Personal Reflections 1:15 p.m.: Tyler Perry 1:17 p.m.: Cicely Tyson, Actress 1:20 p.m.: Clive Davis, Chief Creative Officer, Sony Music 1:25 p.m.: Smokey Robinson, Recording Artist
- 1:30-1:34 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Bishop Paul Morton and Yolanda Adams
- 1:34-1:53 p.m.: Personal Reflections 1:34 p.m.: Mildred Gaddis, Radio Personality 1:38 p.m.: Isaiah Thomas, Former NBA Player, Detroit Pistons 1:42 p.m.: Ron Moten, Personal Friend, Franchise Owner, McDonald’s Restaurants 1:48 p.m.: Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University
- 1:53-2:00 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Bishop Marvin Sapp and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir
- 2:00-2:05 p.m.: Sermonic Selection: Jennifer Hudson
- 2:05-2:35 p.m.: Eulogy: Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr., Pastor, Salem Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
- 2:35-2:45 p.m.: Musical Tribute: Stevie Wonder joined by National Artists
- 2:45-3:00 p.m.: Recessional: Jennifer Holliday and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir
Look at that lineup. Imagine who will be in the audience!! Seriously. TD Jakes. Shirley Caesar. Tasha Cobbs. Bishop Paul Morton. Yolanda Adams. Fantasia. Stevie Wonder. Jesse Jackson. Ron Isley. Chaka Khan. Michael Eric Dyson.
Bruh, I said hello to Michael Eric Dyson once. He’s still saying hello back right now. And that was three years ago. I love all of those folks performing with my whole heart. But Shirley Caesar AND Tasha Cobbs-Leonard have FOUR minutes to SING from 12:15 to 12:19??????? A WHOLE SONG? Tasha Cobbs-Leonard has 6-, 7- and 8-minute songs by herself on her latest album, Heart.Passion.Pursuit.
Chaka Khan has 5 minutes? She has runs longer than 5 minutes. On accident. Ask Rufus.
Listen, I’ve been to more funerals than I care to recount at this point. I’ve been to funerals for young people and old. And the one thing they’ve ALL had in common is that they all lasted WAY longer than anybody in attendance expected. Funerals just ... run long. Folks get up to speak and get emotional and singers get folks worked up, which creates extended versions of “This Little Light of Mine.” It happens. I’ve spent four hours at a funeral that I know was supposed to last for one and half hours at the REQUEST of the family. And when folks get to preaching that good word? And folks get to standing up and shouting?
This funeral is happening in Detroit for the Queen of Soul. There is going to be some shouting going on. And I’m not even saying it will start late. Something this important MIGHT start on time, but that first prayer of comfort at 10:20-10:25 a.m. is where I’d imagine a minute-here-and-a-minute-there get added and before anybody knows it, it’s 6:45 p.m. and the service is outlasting Law & Order: SVU marathons, and that’s no easy feat.
I very much look forward to this funeral for the well-earned respects that will be paid to the Queen. I also hope they’re passing out water ’round abouts 7 p.m. because there is no way this is ending at 3 p.m. Considering the vast number of speakers and participants who I’m sure will all get the “be mindful of the schedule” spiel before and during the service, that tight of a schedule seems almost impossible. Once you add in the emotional factor and the number of pastors, politicians and lengthy-song-plus-runs singers involved in a black church for a black icon ... in DETROIT, well, this is the most optimistic funeral schedule ever created. They might need an intermission.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But I say a little prayer because ain’t no way.