Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan among performers at Aretha Franklin funeral

Susan Whitall
Special to The Detroit News
Stevie Wonder will sing at Aretha Franklin's funeral Aug. 31 in Detroit.

Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson are among the stars from across the range of music -- gospel, pop, country, opera and R&B -- who will travel to Detroit to pay homage to the Queen of Soul at Aretha Franklin’s Aug. 31 Celebration of Life at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

Also set to perform are Yolanda Adams, Pastor Shirley Caesar, The Clark Sisters, Jennifer Holliday, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Bishop Marvin Sapp, The Williams Brothers, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, classical artist Audrey DuBois Harris, soprano Alice McAllister Tillman, Franklin’s son Edward Franklin, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir. The list was confirmed by Gwendolyn Quinn, Franklin's longtime publicist.

The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, will deliver the eulogy as he did for her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, at his funeral in 1984.

Serving as officiant will be Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, pastor of Greater Grace Temple, and the Rev. Robert Smith Jr., pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, will be co-officiant. The homegoing service is restricted to family, friends and invited guests.  

Franklin, 76, died of advanced pancreatic cancer Aug. 16, surrounded by family at her home in Detroit. The winner of 18 Grammy awards, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2005, Franklin received the country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President George W. Bush.

The public may pay their respects to the Queen of Soul at several viewings:  9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren in Detroit, and noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at New Bethel Baptist Church, 8430 Linwood in Detroit.

A tribute concert to Franklin will be held Aug. 30 at Chene Park, a spokeswoman for the venue confirmed on Thursday. Performers will be announced at a later date.

Susan Whitall is an author and longtime contributor to The Detroit News. You can reach her at