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Home / Entertainment / Aretha Fans Flock To Her Hometown Church for a last look at the Queen: NPR

Aretha Fans Flock To Her Hometown Church for a last look at the Queen: NPR



Fans of Aretha Franklin left messages on the billboard outside New Bethel Baptist Church, where the late "Queen of the Soul" rested.

Cheryl Corley / NPR


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Fans of Aretha Franklin left messages on a billboard outside New Bethel Baptist Church, where the deceased "Queen of the Soul" lay alone.

Cheryl Corley / NPR

Aretha Franklin returned to her hometown church today

The Queen of Souls died of pancreatic cancer on August 16th. Over the last few days, fans gathered to visit Detroit's Charles H. Wright's Museum of African American History. But today, long queues gathered in front of New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin's late father was a pastor for many years singing in the choir. Franklin, dressed in a pink dress and gold-studded heels, lay in the resting place of the church.

Arlesley Grimes of Detroit was waiting with his wife and aunt, "We wanted to send Aretha good news," he said.

On one wall of the church are balloons bearing the word "Aretha". On the floor are flowers and candles. Fans leaving the church can post messages on billboards. Cynthia Walters signed "Rest in peace".

Walters says that once a year Franklin would dine in the church, which was free for everyone. "I would come down when she performed in the church, there were many people like now," says Walters. "It was a long wait for a long time, the same way then and the same way now, she's really the queen and everyone's coming to see her."

Fans lined up in front of the church to see Aretha Franklin lying in the quiet of the church, where her late father was pastor for many years.

Cheryl Corley / NPR


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Fans lined up on the street in front of the church to see Aretha Franklin quietly in the church, where her late father was a pastor for many years.

Cheryl Corley / NPR

Mansfield Matthewson drove several hours from Grand Rapids to attend the event. "I think the first voice I heard as a kid was Aretha Franklin," says Matthewson. "My parents loved her, I love her, my son loves her – so in my family it's multi-generational."

Sheila Gibson was born in Sacramento, California, but was born in Detroit. "I have guided Aretha through every part of my life, and throughout her studies, with all the difficulties, I would play her music," says Gibson. "So I came from California to be part of a new piece of it."

This public viewing at New Bethel Baptist Church is the last one before Franklin's funeral, which will take place tomorrow at 10 am at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.


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