Aretha Franklin funeral set for August 31 in Detroit

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On Sunday, Detroiters and visitors gathered at the church of Franklin's late father - New Bethel Baptist Church - to remember the life, the voice and the activism of the late singer who grew up singing in the church, the Detroit News reported.

"One occasion, when we were having trouble raising money because of Dr King's anti-war stance, she sang for free, raising money for the cause", he told AFP.

"On Thursday morning, Earth lost her music". She also won 10 other Grammy awards as well as recording 20 number-one R&B singles, 112 charted Billboard singles overall and she sold over 75 million records worldwide.

Franklin's drive for civil rights didn't fade away with the passage of time, a point Ralph Godbee, the former Detroit police chief and current police chief for Detroit Public Schools Community District, made.

"She heard I was ill and she called me - she gave me hope and inspired me", McCall said Thursday, adding that she still has the card that came with a bouquet of flowers Franklin had sent. He spoke before Jackson did. "She will always be in the front of my mind as I make decisions on the film".

When I got the chance to interview Aretha Franklin for the first time in 2001, I was already a bundle of nerves: Even though it was just over the phone, I'd be talking to THE Queen of Soul! Sometimes, I'd get a note from her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, who'd let me know that Franklin would like to talk to me; she sometimes rang me on her own. I went into my office and straightened my uniform, like she could see me.

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"I'll never forget it", he said. Once the officer learned the person was connected to Franklin, the officer stopped and apologized.

So my trepidation was magnified when a colleague told me not to expect much: Franklin was famously guarded and known for giving short, to-the-point answers and little in the way of introspection.

That was an example of Franklin's commitment to standing up to people and her love for Detroit, Godbee said.

"She said she was really looking forward to getting back on the mic, which is her words: 'I really can't wait to get back on the mic.' She said she was resting".

Greater Grace Temple seats about 4,000 people and has hosted the funerals of many luminaries. It's by invitation only.

A public memorial and open casket viewing will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where Aretha was a frequent visitor, on 28 and 29 August. The viewing will run 9 a.m. -9 p.m. each day.

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