A special vigil was held for Aretha Franklin during the 5 a.m. prayer service at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church, founded by her father Rev. C.L. Franklin, reported NBC News. Hundreds gathered to honor the singer, who got her start singing on the choir, through song and prayer.
Robert Smith has been the pastor of New Bethel for 36 years and offered up a prayer for Franklin who he said continued to make donations to the church. “We’re asking you to touch the Queen of Soul,” Smith said according to The Detroit News. “We’re lifting our sister up to you.”
Franklin’s assistant, Fannie L. Tyler, also spoke with the publication about the singer’s unpublicized generosity from paying for Motown singers funerals to paying and housing artist for the local gospel fest.
“She didn’t forget where she came from; She’s done so much that the city doesn’t know about,” Tyler said.
On Monday, it was reported the 76-year-old singer was “gravely ill” and resting at her Detroit home with family. Several notable celebrities including Beyonce paid homage to Franklin and others including Stevie Wonder went to visit her.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.