Aretha Franklin public viewings at Detroit African-American history museum start today

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The hearse arrived early Tuesday morning. By 8 a.m., as many as 200 people were lined up outside.

The Las Vegas resident joined other fans who sang, hugged and shared their memories of the Queen of Soul.

It's part of a week of mourning - and celebration - to honor Franklin, Detroit's hometown superstar, who died August 16 of advanced pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

The 76-year-old's body will be on public view on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History.

"Her music saved my life in 1997 when I was contemplating suicide", he said.

Franklin's casket is believed to be the special order Promethean Casket, which retails for $40,000 and is said to be the same style coffin that James Brown and Michael Jackson were buried in. "But to have done her birthday party [a few years ago] and to stand there and watch her watch me sing - Don, I had to fight back the tears the whole time".

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"I was blessed to see her twice", she said.

Museum board member Kelly Major Green said the goal was to create a dignified and respectful environment akin to a church, the place where Franklin got her start.

Owens stressed that the viewing and other events could not happen without a group she calls "Aretha's angels".

The motorcade of the vehicles will be in honor of Franklin and her hit song, "Freeway of Love".

Thousands are expected to honour Aretha Franklin at public viewings ahead of her funeral on Friday. "She went through the back door so people who look like me could go through the front door".

Camille Howard joined her cousin Melissa Howard on the trip. She says while she never met Franklin, it felt like she could be a sister or an aunt because "she's always been here". "She deserves the very best". "She's royalty. She's worth it". "The void that she's left in the community...this is the only way we knew to thank her and to thank her family for sharing her with us".

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Franklin did and ended up doing what would be the last full concert of her career - three hours long, complete with 29 musicians, backup singers and dancers.

"They do it for iPhones, for Jordans, why not the Queen of Soul", she said.

At the request of the family, only Franklin's gospel music will play during the viewing.

Now that she is gone, Paul said that to him, Aretha Franklin embodied soul music.

"If you ever received flowers from my aunt they would be big, handsome arrangements", Owens said. Her sequined dress, pointed heels, lipstick and earrings were all a matching ruby red.

The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. local time Friday at Greater Grace Temple in the late singer's hometown.

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