Chaka Khan didn’t drop her microphone on the floor after her riveting performance of “Going Up Yonder” at Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Friday, but she may as well have. The soul singer, like Franklin, learned to sing at church and — it was obvious.
Performing gospel singer and songwriter Walter Hawkins’ reassuring hymn on the thrills of the afterlife, Khan eased her way into the song as if to meditate on the groove before gliding into it. With intense auburn hair, a deep blue dress and matching hand-fan, Khan seemed primed to salute her peer, and took her time working through the song.
That, however, shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has experienced Khan in concert. As the Root hilariously noted in a post about the Queen of Soul’s unrealistically timed funeral schedule, “Chaka Khan has 5 minutes? She has runs longer than 5 minutes. On accident. Ask Rufus.”
Known speechifier Bill Clinton did not disappoint at the Detroit funeral of Aretha Franklin on Friday.
The former president spoke at length about his admiration for the late Queen of Soul, admitting that more often than not, being in the presence of Franklin reduced him to little more than an “Aretha groupie.”
But for all of the special performances Clinton was privy to at the White House, few touched him as much as being present for Franklin’s final public performance at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation benefit in November.
At Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit on Friday, Smokey Robinson remembered the very day he first heard Franklin sing. He’d walked into the Franklin family’s Detroit home, a young artist with no idea that the two would help define soul and civil rights activism in the decades to come.
But before he saw her, he heard her piano ringing down the hallway. Right then, he knew they would be friends.
“From then on, we’ve been so close, so tight. I didn’t know that this soon, I’d have to say goodbye,” Robinson said. “We were the two longest [friends] of all the neighborhood kids. Now my longest friend has gone to the father.”
During the opening hours of Aretha Franklin’s funeral at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra offered gentle, instrumental gospel soul music as VIPs and dignitaries including Diana Ross, Hillary and Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tyler Perry, Patti LaBelle and dozens of others greeted friends and family.
The Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir filled the sanctuary with overwhelming power, moving through “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and classic spirituals that confirmed that hundreds of pitch-perfect gospel singers were in the house, both onstage and among the attendees.
With those opening acts, woe be the first soloist to take the microphone, as country superstar Faith Hill did after opening remarks. Backed by the orchestra and choir, Hill delivered an enthusiastic version of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Her inclusion sent an early signal that the late diva’s family was aiming for genre-transcending unification.
The first photo from the series, featuring the cast sitting around a kitchen table, appears to be low-drama, which is probably exactly what the network was hoping for, given the controversy surrounding the show.
Aretha Franklin’s funeral is underway in Detroit this morning, running more than an hour late even before the family had taken their seats, and you can watch it above as it unfolds almost certainly into the afternoon.
The Queen of Soul is wearing gold as family and friends gather at the traditional homegoing service, where hundreds have packed the pews at Greater Grace Temple.
Scheduled speakers include the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton and musical performances by Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande and more.
Alex Cohen, a veteran Los Angeles journalist who has given voice to California news for years, is leaving public radio station KPCC and joining Charter Communications’ Spectrum News, The Times has learned.
The 24-hour local news network is scheduled to launch in November, available to 1.5 million homes in greater Los Angeles that subscribe to Spectrum’s pay-TV service.
Although Cohen’s hire has not been officially announced yet, The Times obtained an email that Cohen sent to supporters Thursday morning confirming her career move to TV.