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fans pay their last respects Aretha Franklin: NPR



Fans of Aretha Franklin attend a Soul Music Legend exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Tuesday.

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Fans of Aretha Franklin visit a Soul Music Legend exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Tuesday.

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Hundreds lined up in front of the Detroit Charles Wright Museum of African American History on Tuesday, where Aretha Franklin is lying two days before her funeral on Friday.

"This is history here," says Sidney Lloyd, 22, of Detroit. His family arrived at 7am on Tuesday to be among the first to say goodbye to the Queen of the Soul

"We are here to respect Aretha Franklin," says Lloyd. "Your voice is a national treasure."

Fans here talk about how Franklin's music marks milestones in the country's history – from singing "Precious Lord" to Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral to "My Country, Tis of Thee" President Obama's inauguration:

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"I find it amazing that she has lived through the racial segregation era right up to the first black president," says Lloyd.

But she also provided the soundtrack for personal moments. And while fans were waiting to see the icon, they would burst into song, and others in the crowd joined it.

Paula Sands was with a group of women from Detroit who gave a little "RESPECT" before a brief rendition of "Thinking."

"She was our queen," says Sands. "May the Lord bless her soul."

Inside, the mourners heard Franklin's gospel shots as they dropped their gold-plated coffin. She is dressed in bright red, including her high heels, and flanked by huge arrangements of purple, pink and yellow roses.

Aretha Franklin is resting in Detroit this week.

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Aretha Franklin is at rest in Detroit this week

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It was a connecting moment for Sir Diego Brazil, who exchanged phone numbers with people he met.

"We all experienced history together," he says. "And love, it's great."

Brazil came from North Miami Beach to be here for the last public appearance of someone he considers a hero. He says that Aretha Franklin's music has inspired him even in the darkest times.

"Strength, healing, motivation, encouragement, happiness," he says. She is whatever genre you are.

Lisa Weber from Minneapolis could hardly speak after she had gone through the viewing.

"I just love Aretha Franklin," she says. "Never again be someone like her."

Jennifer Jones from New Orleans wore an umbrella with Jenna Jones of New Orleans, adorned with a purple feather boa to celebrate Franklin's life in traditional Louisiana style.

Jennifer Jones of New Orleans said that Franklin faces the obstacles women face have left their mark on what they call the "hellified" music business.

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Jennifer Jones of New Orleans says that Franklin has made a name for herself by stumbling through the obstacles that women face in what she calls the "disgraced" music business.

Debbie Elliott / NPR

"They call me the dancing queen of New Orleans, so I had to honor the Queen of Hearts," says Jones as she twirls her umbrella in the second row in the manner of a jazz funeral procession.

"She has changed the world."

Jones's father, Joe Jones, was a music producer. She says that Aretha has set a signal by stumbling through the obstacles that confront women in what she calls the "violated" music business.

"She got it out of her soul," says Jones. "She understood what the human species was, what the soul was, and that was what she felt was God's work, and she brought it"

While Jones and others came from all over the country to pay tribute, this is a particularly poignant moment Detroit

"She was Detroit," says Donna Dugeon. "She did not leave us."

Dugeon says that other artists who have found fame have moved to New York or Los Angeles. But Franklin stopped and that means something.

While people are thinking about what Franklin did for the city, Eusebia Luna Aquino-Hughes comes away with the story of how Aretha Franklin guided her through the Nursing School

Aquino-Hughes says she works in the nursing home being looked after for Franklin's father, Rev. CL Franklin in the 1980s.

"I worked two jobs and I was homeless paying for the Nursing School and she offered to pay for my Nursing School," says Aquino-Hughes. "She saw that I was fighting and offered to help me – that's her."

And she was not alone.

"Twelve of us are nurses today because of Aretha Franklin," says Aquino-Hughes.

In front of the museum is a 1940s Cadillac LaSalle hearse waiting to take the Queen of Soul to her funeral burial site. It is the same vehicle used in her father's funeral processions and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.


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