The homegoing tribute concert was just one of many celebrations delivered for the home going of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
In addition to the viewings and pink Cadillac displays, the city of Detroit showed up in a monumental way. Chene Park Amphitheater may be renamed in her honor soon. Chene Park will be renamed Aretha Franklin Park, Mayor Mike Duggan announced during the Queen of Soul’s funeral on at Greater Grace Temple.
Duggan said he met with Detroit City Council members and, with their support, plans to send them a proposal for approval to rename Chene Park, which he called “a place that belongs to all Detroiters.”
“Our beautiful waterfront jewel will be Aretha Franklin Park,” said Duggan.
Practically everyone who has been in the music industry has played Chene Park. The acoustics and half moon seating makes it possible for each patron to view the show with as little strife as possible, if at all. With worldwide media coming into the city to cover the tribute concert, The Allen Lewis Agency (TALA) was hired to accommodate. Co-Founders Jocelyn K. Allen and Chandra S. Lewis joined forces to form the firm in 2015.
The evening before the funeral, Lady Aretha’s supporters who could fit into the packed venue were given a musical send off. The music ranged from Gospel, R&B, Jazz, New Age, and musician’s person tributea. The variety of stars onboard included: Tyler Perry; KiKi Sheard; Kimmie Horne; Thornetta Davis; Tosha Page Lockhart; (her mom) Lisa Page Brooks; Kurt Karr; Dr. Bobby Jones; media mogul and commentator Roland Martin; Derrick Starksp; and the all star, 25-voice, New Bethel Church choir; the Clark Sisters; actress Jennifer Lewis; various tribute singes doing a remarkable rendition of Aretha’s songs; Keith Washington; L.J. Reynolds; Regina Bell; Raheem Devaughn; Johnny Gill; Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir (the last of the original 4 Tops); Ronnie McNair; and Jean Carne. Renowned comedian and commentator Coco was the mistress of Ceremonies for the event.
Among the public figures in attendance were Min. Louis Farrakhan; Rev. Jessie Jackson; Dr. Sabrina Jackson (WKBD Fox 2 ‘Let it Rip’ expert); retired nurse practitioner and freelance media affiliate Barbara Bolling; and Tiffany Patton, On the Go Media. New York artist Desmond Pinder painted a picture of the Queen of Soul during the tribute concert. Various funeral directors from around the nation were in attendance assisting Dr. Oneal Swanson, Sr. & Family (Swanson’s Funeral Homes) with the funeral, including members of the 100 Black Women of Funeral Service. Many attended the pre-funeral tribute concert as well.
Chene Park is aligned with the Detroit River, which is connected to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It has always been one of Motown’s proudest attributes. During the concert shows, boaters from the U.S. and Canada literally parked their vessels behind the stage and enjoyed a prize view of things while on the water.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Detroit Harbor Master and Police boats were also on hand. Thankfully this type of presence isn’t normally needed, but they were much appreciated and the sea of floating vessels added to the beauty of the picturesque skyline. “It’s an unnamed tradition when things really get cooking we may even toot or blow our horns in excitement,” said one boat captain.
Once the park is named after the one and only Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, an entirely new sense of pride and ownership will be bestowed upon Detroiters and anyone who visits the amphitheater park in the future. Once the park is renamed in Lady Franklin’s honor, it will be a permanent, unchangeable factor. How is that for R.E.S.P.E.C.T.? Picture asking that question in the Queen of Soul’s voice.