Leave it to Aretha Franklin to throw a party / concert like no other. What happens when a diva has the opportunity to plan her own funeral? Beauty, opulence, fierceness, excess…all these things and more. Here are some of the best performances from her 9 hour homegoing ceremony.
Shoe-less Fantasia Barrino gave an Aretha Franklin-worthy performance of "You've Got A Friend". For those non-R&B listeners who weren't aware of even POSSIBLE candidates for the throne, her performance was most likely a revelation. While she may lack the restraint of Aretha, she's still young and has a set of pipes almost unparalleled.
The fabulous, legendary gospel group, The Clark Sisters, sang the Twinkie-Clark penned, "Am I Living in Vain" at the funeral, in what may have been my favorite performance. The lyrics to the song are incredibly appropriate: is my living in vain, is my praying in vain, is my singing in vain, etc. Well, none of it was in vain here. The amazingly old-school performance brought down the ancestors up in that church!
Not originally scheduled to perform, Gladys Knight's impromptu performance, served as a virtual "spiritual uplifting", needed after the negative, non-Aretha-centered sermon by a fire-and-brimstone, agenda-wielding Jasper Williams brought down the spirits and/or angered the majority of all watching this historic event. Gladys and Stevie Wonder brought the room back into balance with their heartfelt, uplifting performances towards the end of the ceremony.
Chaka Khan blessed up with a rendition of the Walter Hawkins classic, "Going Up Yonder".
With a spirit of homecoming, more than funeral, Stevie Wonder infuses the ceremony with grace, dignity and a classy rebuke to the minister's widely panned (see Twitter quotes in another article here) sermon. With a message of love and togetherness, Stevie closes out this ceremony (Jenifer Holliday sings the final song) with a tear-inducing, soul-lifting performance for his friend Aretha.
The original Jennifer sings Aretha out, with an authentically, old-tyme gospel classic. Be prepared that this video is REALLY accurate as to how a black funeral ends, pall-bearers, upbeat outgoing processional and all. Jennifer is singing like her life depends on it or like she's trying to sing Satan out of this world. I'm pretty sure her uvula tried to escape midway through the song, but boy, she committed.
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