ROBERT HARDMAN watches as Motown stars join mourners to pay Respect for the ...

Even by royal standards, this was one hell of a send-off.

America had come to say farewell to Aretha Franklin at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple with a service that was already scheduled to last for six hours at the outset.

It then started an hour and a half late because of the sheer number of mourners flocking to pay their respects.

As a result, the metropolis of music and motors began its exhaustive tribute to the Queen of Soul yesterday morning and it was still going strong long into the afternoon.

Ariana Grande's performance was well received, with the audience breaking into rapturous applause when she finished 

Ariana Grande's performance was well received, with the audience breaking into rapturous applause when she finished 

Youthful Grande skipped on to sing (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, a Franklin hit decades before she was even born

Youthful Grande skipped on to sing (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, a Franklin hit decades before she was even born

Detroit was determined to show the world its own version of a state funeral – with a cavalcade of pink Cadillacs (a homage to Aretha’s 1985 hit Freeway Of Love, in which she sang ‘riding in my pink Cadillac’), an ex-President, whole pews of charismatic pastors and preachers plus numerous celebrities swaying self-consciously to the gleefully infectious gospel vibe.

 What we all really wanted to hear, of course, was the music. 

For a talent of this magnitude – a prodigy who had her first record deal at 12 and was still packing halls in her seventies, a diva hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as the ‘greatest singer of all time’ – there was going to have to be some pretty exemplary music.

Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance

Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple on Friday with the emotional and powerful performance

Hudson had people swaying on their feet and raising their hands in the air as she belted out Amazing Grace at the funeral

Hudson had people swaying on their feet and raising their hands in the air as she belted out Amazing Grace at the funeral

People were on their feet as Jennifer Hudson performed. She is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic

People were on their feet as Jennifer Hudson performed. She is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic

 No pressure, therefore, on the lengthy line-up of musical mourners including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Ariana Grande.

First, however, came the tributes. Dozens of them. And they did not hold back. Aretha had been the daughter of a famous preacher, the Rev Dr C L Franklin. She was raised on fiery Bible-bashing and Sunday choirs.

Representatives of what seemed to be every church and denomination in Detroit lined up to honour one of their own and did so with great passion.

Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week

Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week

Franklin's coffin was taken down a red carpet ahead of her star-studded funeral

Aretha Franklin arrived at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday morning in the 1940s hearse which transported her body to the viewing earlier this week

 Two hours had passed before the performances finally kicked off courtesy of country music star Faith Hill singing What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

Soon afterwards, the youthful Ariana Grande skipped on to sing (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, a Franklin hit decades before she was even born.

The best seats in the house were reserved neither for musicians nor clergy but for politicians. 

Streets outside the funeral were lined with pink Cadillacs, a nod to Franklin's funky '80s tune, 'Freeway of Love' which featured the car in the lyrics and video

Streets outside the funeral were lined with pink Cadillacs, a nod to Franklin's funky '80s tune, 'Freeway of Love' which featured the car in the lyrics and video

A Cadillac with Aretha's name emblazoned on the front is seen parked among hundred of others that drove to the funeral

A Cadillac with Aretha's name emblazoned on the front is seen parked among hundred of others that drove to the funeral

More than one hundred pink Cadillacs parked outside of the Greater Grace Temple during the funeral service for Aretha

More than one hundred pink Cadillacs parked outside of the Greater Grace Temple during the funeral service for Aretha

Inside her gold-plated coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels - her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing

Inside her gold-plated coffin, Aretha is dressed in a full-length golden dress, with sequined heels - her fourth outfit since her first day of viewing

 As many speakers pointed out, Aretha Franklin’s role as a pillar and symbol of the civil rights movement was every bit as important as her musical attributes.

America was, after all, laying to rest a woman who had performed at the funeral of Dr Martin Luther King and the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Her body – in a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels – had been brought to the church in the same hearse that carried the great civil rights protester Rosa Parks to her final farewell.

Faith Hill kicked off the musical tributes with an

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