DETROIT (WJBK) - Former President Bill Clinton was one of the honored guests for Aretha Franklin's homegoing in Detroit and spoke about his last visit with the Queen of Soul.
Clinton said Aretha was breathtaking talent who lived with courage, faith, and power in her 76 years. Aretha, who sang for Dr. Martin Luther King, multiple presidents including himself and Barack Obama, and he even said he talked her into performing in the Rose Garden for the emperor and empress of Japan.
The former president said he was grateful when he walked into Greater Grace Temple and saw that his friend's casket had not been closed yet.
"I want to say, I hope God will forgive me, I was so glad when I got here when the casket was still open because I said 'I wonder what my friend's got on today,'" Clinton said, to a wave of laughs and claps from the crowd.
Aretha is dressed in a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels, her fourth outfit of the week.
Clinton went on and described his final performance at the Elton John AIDS Foundation in Harlem.
most enduring memory of her was almost happenstance. i was there for what turned out to be the last public singing at aids benefit last year.
"She learned I was there, she summoned me back. She's sitting there obviously desperately ill, gaunt. She stood right up and said 'How you doing baby?' I said I'm doing better now. She said 'well look at me, I finally got thin again.' Then she went out into this setting and all these people who loved her were awestruck and said can you believe she showed up," Clinton said.
By that point, in September 2017, Aretha had fought pancreatic cancer since 2010. Despite her illness, Clinton said she performed for the audience for 45 minutes.
"She even went and played a song on the piano to make sure none of us forgot that she was real good at that," Clinton said.
Through it all, Clinton said Aretha didn't let the audience know how ill she was.
"She even told the audience that day she had gotten a good medical report. I have no idea if it's true or not. She wanted them to sit back, relax, feel good and listen to her sing and not worry about how long she was going to live," he said.
Clinton continued, saying she cared about broken people, about people who were disappointed or didn't succeed as much as she did.
"This is what I think you should remember in this time about this magnificent woman: she worked her can off to get where she was. She took the gifts god gave her, she kept getting little bigger every day."
Ariana Grande sings, Al Sharpton swipes at Trump
Michael Eric Dyson honors Aretha Franklin and The D
Isiah Thomas: I was Aretha's favorite Bad Boy
Jennifer Hudson delivers stirring Amazing Grace at Aretha Franklin funeral
Stevie Wonder gives heartfelt tribute to Aretha Franklin
With that, Clinton told his friend that the world loved her and would miss her - then said good-bye by playing 'Think' through his phone.
"It's the key to freedom!" Clinton said.