Aretha Franklin Funeral: Bishop Apologises To Ariana Grande
The bishop responsible for officiating Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised to pop star Arina Grande after being criticised for touching her inappropriately on stage.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who led the ceremony, had an awkward interaction with the singer after her performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, the 1967 song written by Carole King, that became one of Franklin’s signature hits.
Photos showed Ellis with his arm around Grande, who looked uncomfortable. His hand lay above her waist, with his fingers pressing against the right side of her chest.
In an interview with Associated Press after the event, Ellis apologised, saying it would “never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast”. He said:
“I don’t know, I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.”
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists. Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.
“The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
Ellis also apologised to Grande’s fans and the Hispanic community for joking about mistaking her name on the programme for a new item on the menu at Mexican fast food restaurant Taco Bell. He said:
“I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a programme for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
Franklin died earlier in August at the age of 76, from pancreatic cancer.
Grande was one of several performers to sing at her funeral, including Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, gospel trio The Clark Sisters, and Chaka Khan.