Although Barack and Michelle Obama were unable to attend the Detroit funeral for Aretha Franklin, their presence was still felt at Greater Grace Temple.
In their absence, the Obamas sent a masterfully penned letter of tribute to be read at Franklin's ceremony. Al Sharpton read the letter at the end of his powerful address.
"From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice. Whether bringing people together through a thrilling intersection of genres or advancing important causes through the power of song, Aretha’s work reflected the very best of our American story – in all of its hope and heart, its boldness and its unmistakable beauty," Sharpton read to the church.
"In the example she set, both as an artist and a citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation, while the music she made captured some of our deepest human desires: namely affection and respect. And through her own voice, Aretha lifted those of millions, empowering and inspiring the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and everyone who may have just needed a little love," he continued.
"Aretha truly was one of a kind. And as you pay tribute, know we’ll be saying a little prayer for you. And we’ll be thinking of all of Aretha’s loved ones in the days and weeks to come.
"Sincerely, Barack Obama."
Immediately after Sharpton read the name of the letter's author, the attendants of the church jumped to their feet for an incredibly moving standing ovation.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)