Aretha presents June 7 tribute to her father, brother

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

Aretha Franklin will present a special memorial to her late father, Detroit minister and civil rights activist Rev. C.L. Franklin, and her brother, Rev. Cecil Franklin, June 7 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

Billed as “Aretha Franklin Presents a Memorial for Rev. C.L. Franklin & Rev. Cecil Franklin,” the event will feature gospel music and a soul food buffet before and after the memorial. Some of the gospel royalty performing will be Karen Clark Sheard and Twinkie Clark; Dorothy Norwood of the Caravans, Rev. Donald Parson and Rev. Robert Smith Jr., the current pastor of New Bethel Baptist.

Everybody is invited to share their memories of Aretha’s father, who died in 1984, and her brother, who died in 1989. Cecil Franklin managed her career and was also a minister.

Rev. C.L. Franklin moved with his family to Detroit in 1946 from Memphis, where Aretha and her siblings Erma, Cecil and Carolyn were born, to be pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, which was then on Hastings Street. His fiery preaching and powerful singing drew many to the church, and Franklin took the young Aretha with him to perform on gospel tours around the country. Franklin also was known for his close friendship and work for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era.

Admission is free —for the memorial, music and food — and open to the public, although attendees are welcome to donate during the usual church collection. Will Franklin sing? Nothing’s official, but we’d be surprised if she didn’t feel moved to sing a number or two.

New Bethel Baptist Church is located at 8430 Linwood (C.L. Franklin Blvd.), Detroit. For more information call (313) 894-5789.