Detroit was downright ecstatic during a five-day love-fest of the city’s most beloved daughter. Love was everywhere—loving appreciation of Aretha’s living, breathing music and loving pride that this very community cultivated her remarkable gift.
The holy praise was bluesy and the sweet jazz sanctified as Detroit rejoiced in the sounds of the woman who rocked this troubled nation for more than a half-century.
In venues both massive and intimate, the sacred sounded secular and the secular sounded sacred. What better way to honour an artist whose brilliant career had married the earthly and divine?
The elongated homage began in hallowed quietude. On Tuesday and Wednesday thousands walked by her open casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. On Thursday the viewing moved to the New Bethel Baptist on C.L. Franklin Boulevard, the street named in honour of Aretha’s father who preached some of the most progressive sermons of the civil rights era.
Approaching the final bodily form of the singer considered the finest America has ever produced, an elderly woman softy said, “She’s home. She’s always belonged to us. Now she belongs to God.”
The setting was stunning: a sea of pink and purple roses, a bronze gold-plated casket, the queen in regal repose, adorned in a pinkish beige St. John’s suit, matching stilettos, her legs crossed, a soft smile gracing her face. The drama was magnetic, her vestments radiant symbols of her final material presence. The fact that those vestments were changed four times—the first day she was awash in ruby red, the second day baby blue and on burial day glittering gold—added appropriate glamour to her wildly glamorous career. Read more