Performers honor Aretha Franklin at African World Festival in Detroit

DETROIT - The family of Aretha Franklin on Friday released its plans for the celebration of her life.

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It will start with a two-day public visitation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 28 and 29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Many people, from historians to Grammy Award-winning artists, paid tribute to the Queen of Soul at the museum Friday night. The evening was filled with music and memories. 

The museum already had a crowd from its celebration of the 36th Annual African World Festival, which is being held from Friday to Sunday.

"What can I say?" said Regina Belle, who won the best pop performance by a duo or group Grammy Award for "A Whole New World" from Disney's 1992 movie "Aladdin."

Belle said performing in Detroit, outside the same venue where the Queen of Soul will lie in repose, gives her chills.

"What better place to put her body -- in a place that embodies what our people have stood for, what we have endured," Belle said.

The tributes didn't just come from musicians.

"Every time I was in her presence, it was a state of euphoria," said Sharon Freed-Moreland, the artistic director at Dancing Divas & Divos Dance Academy.

Freed-Moreland spent six years touring with Franklin as a backup dancer and choreographer in the early 2000s.

"It's wonderful to dance with all the dancers and to dance for the queen again," Freed-Moreland said, "but this time, she won't be there watching."

People at United Sound Systems Recording Studios are reflecting on the time Franklin spent recording in studio on 2nd Avenue.

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"We came here and recorded Aretha and 'Who's Zooming Who,'" said studio historian Alex Alexandere.

Alexandere said that after her father, C.L. Franklin, died, the Queen of Soul took a break from recording music and, when she returned, United Sound Systems Recording Studios was one of her favorites.

"When she came here to record, she knew five to 10 minutes she could go home or get her fried chicken delivered to her," Alexandere said. "She was a diva, but she was our diva."

United Sound Systems Recording studios will be holding a free-to-the-public open house honoring Franklin Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. It is located at 5840 2nd Ave. in Detroit.

You can find more information about Freed-Moreland and the Dancing Divas & Divos Dance Academy at its official website here.

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