More than 100 pink Cadillacs expected for Aretha Franklin’s funeral today

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Aretha Franklin’s funeral service is today in Detroit, and plans call for a service of at least five hours featuring performances by stars including Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Chaka Khan, speakers including former President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and at least 130 pink


lining the road in front of the church.

The gesture is a nod to Franklin’s Grammy award-winning 1985 hit “Freeway of Love” and its lyrics about driving in a pink


. Crisette Ellis, the wife of Bishop Charles Ellis III of Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, said they were inspired by how police line up their cars during funerals for fallen officers. “My husband said, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have a sea of pink Cadillacs parked on Seven Mile Road to greet Ms. Aretha Franklin as she arrives?'” she

told NPR


Ellis is an independent national sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, which famously rewards top sellers with pink Cadillacs, so she had a built-in base of people to call on for the favor. “They’re coming from everywhere,” she said. “They are coming from as far as Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Florida; North Carolina; Maryland.”

The funeral, which officially kicks off at 10 a.m. EST at Greater Grace, caps a weeklong celebration of Franklin’s life and songs, including a two-day visitation at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and concerts. Performers also include Faith Hill, Jennifer


and the Clark Sisters, while Tyler Perry and the Rev. Jesse Jackson are also scheduled to speak.


and the

Word Network

, plus several local Detroit television affiliates, plan to broadcast the funeral, and outlets including

The Associated Press


USA Today

plan to livestream it.

Detroit does epic funerals for its fallen icons. In 2005, the funeral for civil rights hero Rosa Parks, at which Franklin sang, stretched for more than seven hours. Franklin will be laid to rest at the same cemetery in Detroit as Parks. Franklin’s body is being

carried in a 1940 LaSalle hearse

that was also used to carry Parks’ body in 2005.

Her body is to be interred later Friday at Woodlawn Cemetery near the remains of her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin; her brother, Cecil Franklin; and sisters Carolyn and Erma Franklin.

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