Aretha Franklin Funeral Bishop Apologizes To Ariana Grande After Touch
Detroit: The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised Friday to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
Bishop Charles Ellis led Franklin’s funeral and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Images of the moment showed Ellis’ hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
Social media users were quick to call out sexual harassment, posting images of the moment with the hashtag #RespectAriana.
The preacher apologised in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late on Friday.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.”
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”
He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
Ellis also apologised to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about seeing her name on the program and thinking it was a new item on the Taco Bell menu.
“I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
Ellis’ touching of Grande overshadowed some criticism earlier in the ceremony the short dress Grande wore for her performance. Numerous people posted criticisms online that the dress was too short for church.
Others called out former US president Bill Clinton who in some video footage appears to look Grande’s back up and down repeatedly.
“#ArianaGrande don’t know the below the knee rule for the pulpit in the black church. Somebody hand her a lap hanky and a choir robe. Bless her heart,” tweeted one, Tenisha Taylor Bell.
Others pointed out women have a right to wear whatever they please without being harassed.
Grande’s representative did not return an email message seeking comment.