Detroit street now known as Aretha Franklin Way

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Queen of Soul is now king of the road.

Surrounded by fans, the legendary singer had a city street named after her Thursday evening. A section of Madison, between Brush and Witherell, is now known as Aretha Franklin Way.

Franklin, 75, admitted to being a bit emotional about the honor.

“I knew I would get weepy when I got down here,” she said to an audience gathered at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, minutes before the sign reveal.

She thanked the Detroit City Council for the honor, which she called magnificent.

“Every time I come down here, I want to see it,” she said. “I’m gonna dance down it. Thank you.”

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin moved with her family to Detroit in 1946 when her father, C.L. Franklin, became pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church.

Franklin reflected on her early years performing in Detroit at the Flame Show Bar on John R. and the 20 Grand on 14th Street.

“Detroit has been with me ever since,” she said. “They were with me when no one else knew who I was and I’ve been with them every step of the way.”

The street-naming kicked off four days of events for the inaugural Detroit Music Weekend, designed to showcase the city, its artists and the entertainment district.

Franklin is the centerpiece of the weekend.

Detroit council President Brenda Jones read a proclamation Thursday detailing the relationship between Franklin and the intersection of Madison and Brush, site of the Music Hall. She’s performed at the Music Hall numerous times during her career and the venue hosted Easter Sunday services when her father’s church was over capacity.

The proclamation also highlighted Franklin’s professional achievements, including 18 Grammy wins, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

“She is a personal hero of mine and I know she is to you and especially for women all over the world,” Jones said.

Franklin took a few minutes to admire her street sign before posing for photos with family and supporters. A crowd of onlookers pressed close as they snapped photos of the singer. Some requested autographs.

Wendy Wiegand of Southfield said it was important for her to attend the event as a show of respect for Franklin. The 67-year-old said she’s a longtime fan.

“Naming a street after her, the tribute will last for years and years,” she said. “She’s such a wonderful person.”

Franklin is the subject of a tribute concert Friday at the Music Hall and she’s performing a free outdoor concert at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Madison Central Stage; organizers say it is her final Detroit concert.

Franklin has not definitively said whether Saturday’s performance is her last in the city.

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