Aretha Franklin's Detroit Church Holds Vigil for Ailing Queen of Soul

Churchgoers prayed Wednesday morning for the ailing Aretha Franklin in the Detroit church where her father was once a pastor.

aretha-franklin-vigil-new-bethel-baptist-church-detroit_Getty-JEFF KOWALSKY : Contributor
(Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY / Contributor / Getty)

Detroit station WDIV reports that the vigil at New Bethel Baptist Church began before dawn on Wednesday and attracted more than 100 people for the Queen of Soul, who is reportedly "gravely ill."

"We're asking you to touch the Queen of Soul," said Robert Smith, New Bethel's pastor, according to The Detroit News. "We're lifting our sister up to you."

Franklin's father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, led the church for decades while it was a backbone of the local civil rights movement. His photos still hang on the walls of the church, NBC News reports.

The prayers come one day after high profilers like Stevie Wonder and Rev. Jesse Jackson visited the 76-year-old music legend. Franklin's ex-husband, actor Glynn Turman, also visited heron hospice care at her home, where she is reported to be "surrounded by close friends and family."

Other big names like Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tyler Perry, Missy Elliott and Steven Tyler have offered words of support for Franklin, and Beyoncé dedicated her and husband Jay-Z's Detroit show to Franklin on Monday.

"This show is dedicated to Aretha Franklin," Beyoncé told the crowd in Franklin's home town. "We love you and thank you." The Detroit Free Press added that Beyoncé thanked Franklin for "the beautiful music."

Details about Franklin health are unclear, although she has struggled in recent years and announced in 2017 that she planned to retire. Earlier this year, she was forced to cancel two scheduled appearances in March and April, including a gig at the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

"Aretha Franklin has been ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest completely for at least the next two months," Franklin's management said in a statement at the time.

A source told Entertainment Tonight that Franklin "is at peace with her journey," adding that "she is where she is supposed to be, at home and surrounded by only love."


"Aretha has been sick for a long time but didn't want to share her pain with the world," the source added. "She has always been a very private person and the last thing she wanted was to reveal this difficult time in her life with her fans. She's loved her life and in the last year talked so much about her incredible memories. She has earned the title as the Queen of Soul and that is how she wants to be remembered."