Atlanta pastor to give eulogy at Aretha Franklin's funeral

ATLANTA — A well-known local pastor will deliver the eulogy for the Queen of Soul in Detroit next week.

Rev. Jasper Williams eulogized Aretha Franklin's father 34 years ago, and on Thursday, he told Channel 2 Action News he recently got the call to give her eulogy.

He did not think twice and told Channel 2's Craig Lucie he is still working on exactly what he plans to share about her life.

Her music touched lives all over the world.

Franklin was a megastar, but to Williams, of Salem Baptist Church in northwest Atlanta, she was a dear friend.

"With friendship, nothing breaks. And here I am, because of coming together, of the heritage of Aretha and my family, that I stand on this end of her going home," Williams said.

Franklin's father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was Williams' mentor. Williams has known Aretha Franklin since he was 16 years old.


"Still, in the month of August, 34 years later, I've been asked by her again to do her eulogy," Williams said.

Williams sang with Franklin on numerous occasions, and there's word he may sing for her again when she's laid to rest.

"I'm gonna take the life of Aretha. I'm going to take the word of God. I'm going to take society as it is in present with us now, and do my best to mesh all of that into, hopefully, what a eulogy ought to be," Williams said.

Williams said he will head to Detroit on Thursday and, leading up to that point, he has a request.

"I ask you as humbly as I can, when you go down on your knees in prayer, that you will remember me in this hour," Williams said.

Williams will travel with his family, and many other Atlantans, including Ira Joe Johnson, will travel to honor the late icon.

"I'm going to Detroit to pay my respects for a lady who was a queen," Johnson said.

Williams said he is "happy to carry out her wishes as she desires" after receiving the call from family members.