The singer died at her home in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 76 after suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.
Franklin's body arrived, in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse, more than two hours before the service was scheduled to start. "Celebrate Aretha", before breaking into "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".
Her coffin is to be entombed on Friday in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery near the remains of her father; her brother, Cecil Franklin; and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma Franklin.
"I love her and I respect who she was and who she is and all of those kinds of things", Knight added.
"We saw all of our other close friends go", Robinson said.
Clinton ended with this praise of Franklin: "You should remember in this time about this magnificent woman".
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Franklin was recalled as both an American institution, who sang at the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and as an aunt and grandmother, who took her young relatives shopping or to see Disney on Ice shows. Among the high profile guests were Whoopi Goldberg, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ariana Grande, T.D. Jakes, Jennifer Holliday, boxer Tommy Hearns, Motown star Martha Reeves, Jesse Jackson Rep. Maxine Waters and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan were all spotted.
She was carried in a gleaning casket plated in 24-karat gold.
Aretha's ex-husband, Mr Turman, appeared on Good Morning Britain after her death and told the hosts about the time Sammy Davis Jr. introduced her to royalty. The Lord tells us where we are going and tells us when we are coming.
Singing a Franklin classic in front of the late icon's family and friends was no doubt a daunting task, but Grande handled it with grace, keeping her usual verbal gymnastics in check to deliver a lovely, faithful rendition. A new generation of singers like Grande who are inspired by the late Queen of Soul is just the beginning.
Owens said Franklin loved fiercely and was the family's matriarch.
"After all she gave to the world, I felt we needed to give her an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy", Owens said.