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Detroit — Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to Dennis Edwards, Grammy-winning singer and former member of the Temptations, who died Feb. 1 in Chicago.

People lined up to get inside Little Rock Baptist Church, located at Woodward and Holbrook Avenue, for a memorial service for Edwards. 

"We are celebrating the life of a legacy," said Rev. Dr. Jim Holley, who officiated the service. "You can't have a full funeral for Dennis Edwards without having a service in Detroit. He really preached his own funeral." 

Edwards, 74, died Feb. 1, two days shy of his 75th birthday, at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. His death has been attributed to complications from meningitis but a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Edwards’ death is under investigation by Chicago police and that the official cause and manner are pending.

Courtney Stewart, a cousin of Edwards, read his obituary and told his life story from being born in Alabama and moving to Detroit when he was 10 years old. He attended Cass Technical High School and Eastern Michigan University. He joined the army branch and served in Germany from 1961 to 1963 before auditioning for Motown Records in 1966. 

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"Then he was blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime," she said. He auditioned for the Temptations and with his smooth yet gritty voice, they released "Cloud Nine," "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," "Can't Get Next to You," and many more hits. 

In his career, Edwards had 14 gold records, seven Grammy's, six platinum records and was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Representatives from the Motown community including members of The Contours, The Miracles and The Velvelettes, were in attendance. 

"Words can not adequately express our somber as he joins the heavenly choir with other Motown alumni," said Cal Street, lead singer of The Velvelettes. 

Edwards' son Bernard Hubbard attended the memorial and did not relay any remarks but sung "A Song For You" as a tribute to his father. 

Edwards was also admired by Aretha Franklin, who stated he was the inspiration behind her song "Day Dreaming." Franklin was unable to attend the memorial due to being ill but sent her condolences to be read to the family. The Motown Gospel Choir also sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Franklin. 

Motown Museum Trustee Allen Rawls also spoke at the memorial saying Edwards had accomplished what some might say was the ultimate legacy. 

"He was a legend among legends and we were blessed to call him our own," Rawls said. "We all remember the day Cloud Nine hit the radio for the first day in America...and the rest is music history."

srahal@detroitnews.com

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