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Fans invited to celebrate Aretha Franklin at two-day event

TRIBUTE: Aretha Franklin

FANS HAVE been invited to pay their final respects to Aretha Franklin at a two-day public viewing in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan later this month.

The Queen of Soul lost her battle with advanced pancreatic cancer on Thursday (Aug 16) aged 76, and now her relatives have outlined plans for a four-day celebration of her life.

A public memorial and open casket viewing will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where Aretha was a frequent visitor, on August 28 and 29.

A private funeral service will follow at the city's Greater Grace Temple on 31 August, when close family and friends will bid a final farewell to the legendary singer, and she will then be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery.

According to Franklin's publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, the music icon will be laid to rest beside her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, brother Cecil Franklin, sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin, and nephew Thomas Garrett.

Franklin's representatives are also said to be working on organising a tribute event with a number of top artists, although those details have yet to be announced, reports Click On Detroit.

The news emerges hours after two of Aretha's closest friends, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, shared their memories of the Respect hitmaker.

Stevie recalled his last words to the singer, who he visited at her Detroit home on Tuesday, a day after she was reported to be "gravely ill".

"She wasn't able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me, and so I just said all the things that I've always said and told her to say hello to my sister," Wonder told CBS This Morning on Friday.

He also honoured her as a "great human being", adding, "She brought joy to others' lives, and she will - her voice and the essence of her - will long (out) live all of us that are here right now."

And Smokey, who had been childhood pals with Aretha, paid homage in a TV interview with breakfast show Good Morning America.

"Aretha and I were just tight, and we had a wonderful, wonderful friendship that lasted throughout her entire life, and she was my longest friend...," Smokey shared, smiling as he dubbed her a "great cook" and an all-round "great person".

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