As they approached, people who came from as far away as Las Vegas and Miami cried, crossed themselves, bowed their heads or blew kisses. "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".
Emotions ran high - both celebratory and sad - for those who embraced Franklin as a part of their extended family, even if they never met her in person.
The gospel, soul and R&B star legend influenced generations of singers with unforgettable hits including "Respect" (1967), "Natural Woman" (1968) and "I Say a Little Prayer" (1968).
There will be a great deal of tears in Detroit again this week connected to the Queen of Soul as the city - her city - bids her farewell.
The Detroit Free Press reported that a public viewing had been added on Thursday at New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin's father, the late Rev. C.L. Franklin, formerly served as pastor. Franklin wasn't afraid of losing her audience or future opportunities because of her support for a radical freedom fighter.
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"Her music changed the lives of many and it's an honor to be here", said one mourner who journeyed from Toledo, Ohio. Although Franklin had cancelled some concerts the past decade due to various health reasons, she told one Detroit audience in 2017 to "keep me in your prayers".
The museum also hosted civil rights activist Rosa Parks's viewing in 2005. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who had Franklin sing at his 1993 inauguration celebrations, will be among the speakers. More than 100 pink models of the iconic USA automobile are expected to file in outside the church on the day of her funeral.
Franklin's dazzling music career included classic songs (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and RESPECT. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female.
The singer's four sons - Clarence, Edward, Teddy White Jr. and Kecalf - will now share equally in her estimated $US80 million estate, in accordance with MI state law. Born amidst tragedies of family relocation, the separation of her parents, and the death of her mother, Franklin learned piano by ear and first started singing church solos at the age of ten.