The body of Franklin, who died aged 76 from pancreatic cancer, has been transported to the service in a 1940s vintage hearse, which carried both Rosa Parks and her father. There are musical tributes planned from several artists, including Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia and Jennifer Holliday.
Mayor Mike Duggan announced at the service that he meant to have the city's riverfront Chene Park renamed in Franklin's honor.
"She had the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of a century", Clinton said, describing himself as a Franklin "groupie" long before he became president.
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"I just loved her", Clinton continued. For three days she lay in a golden, open-casket, wearing a different outfit each day - red on Tuesday, blue on Wednesday, rose gold on Thursday and a golden sparkling dress for her funeral on Friday.
Clinton ended with this praise of Franklin: "You should remember in this time about this magnificent woman". Among those offering words will be former President Bill Clinton, Jackson and Franklin's friend since childhood, Smokey Robinson.
Clinton said he walked into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on W. 110th Street and was surprised that Franklin summoned him to meet with her privately and talk a bit before the festivities. "And there were other people who called us wanting to participate".
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.
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The mayor said: "When Aretha Franklin sang, it sounded like the voice of Detroit".
Her family wanted to keep the funeral service private to those closest to Franklin - though it will be streamed and portions broadcast by major networks - but worked to provide the singer's many fans an extended opportunity to say goodbye this week, Owens said. "We used to talk about that - we saw a lot of soldiers go".
Sabrina Owens, Franklin's niece, told the AP she started putting thoughts to paper about events earlier this year as her aunt's health failed.
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