Following a week of mourning in her hometown city of Detroit, Aretha Franklin will be transported to her final resting in a hearse as glamorous as the Queen of Soul herself.
However, the ivory hearse used to carry Franklin’s gold casket to the public viewing at Charles H Wright Museum of African American History, and soon to her funeral, is also historically significant.
The vintage two-door 1940 Cadillac LaSalle is known for transporting notable figures – including Franklin’s own father, Reverend CL Franklin in 1984, the Temptations baritone David Ruffin in 1991 and civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005.
Used only upon special request, the hearse is owned by Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit, open since 1958 and run by O’Neil D Swanson II – a family friend of the Franklin’s.
For Swanson, who was also behind the wheel of the vintage car for Franklin’s father, it has been a “privilege” to transport the Queen of Soul, who died earlier this month at the age of 76.
“We had a lot of love and respect for Aretha,” he told The Washington Post. “I’ve known her many, many years. Her father and I were close, and so it’s a privilege for us to be servicing her and her family.”
The hearse is just one of many notable details comprising the week-long tribute to the soul singer, which included an outfit change between public viewings and a public concert set to take place on Thursday night in honour of her legacy.
On Friday, the singer’s body will be transported to New Bethel Baptist Church for a private funeral service before being laid to rest at the city’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
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