DETROIT, Mich. — Fans continued to celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin for a second straight day. Dozens brought more balloons and flowers to lay at the memorial created for her Thursday in front of New Bethel Baptist Church, where she worshipped as a child. Others chose to honor her through dance.
“It’s like you just get this kinda of jazzy feeling,” said 11-year-old Simone Simmons. “It’s just, I don’t know how to explain it.”
Simmons was a part of an all-girl dance group that performed a choreographed routine to Aretha’s chart-topper Respect. As they danced in the drizzling rain in front of the memorial, two toddlers ran up and joined them.
“I really did like her voice,” Simmons said. “My grandma she used to let me sit on her bed and she used to show me different videos of her.”
Simmons said she enjoyed Aretha’s music even though it was before her time. She mainly liked the Queen of Soul because her songs made her grandmother happy. Many fans at the memorial echoed the same sentiment, that Aretha cared about the city and its people.
“She represented Detroit,” said Gerald Towns, holding his infant daughter in his arms. “She represented God. She represented the church. She represented everything good in he music.”
He brought a few balloons to add to the memorial. He said he’s hoping to see her body during the visitation on August 28 and 29 at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
“I just wanted my baby to be a part of this because I think this is a real inspirational thing that everybody is doing here,” he said. “I want to teach my daughter everything about her so she’ll know.”
Thousands are expected to attend the two-day visitation. The funeral at Greater Grace Temple Church is closed to the public.
“Even though she is gone, she’s not gone,” said Simmons. “She still here. Not physically. But she still here spiritually.”