Taylor Swift Pays Tribute to Aretha Franklin at Detroit 'Reputation' Concert: 'We Lost an Irreplaceable Force'

Taylor Swift
Alexander Tamargo/TAS18/Getty Images for TAS

Taylor Swift performs on stage during the Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour at Hard Rock Stadium on Aug. 18, 2018 in Miami.

With the late Aretha Franklin lying in state just up the road, Taylor Swift used her Reputation Stadium Tour stop Tuesday night (Aug. 28) at Detroit's Ford Field to pay heartfelt tribute to the Queen of Soul.   

Just before opening the third act of the concert, Swift noted that, "Last week we lost an irreplaceable force. Aretha Franklin did so much for music, did so much for women's rights, did so much for civil rights. She was one of those people where no matter what you said, no matter what glowing positive thing you said about her, it would be an understatement. Words could never, ever describe how many things she did in her lifetime that made our world a better place. And this is her home."    

As the crowd of about 50,000 cheered, Swift asked for a moment of silence "so that every single one of us could reflect on our love and respect for her and everything she did in her life." Swift stayed silent for nearly a full minute in front of a star-filled backdrop, with shooting stars cutting across the scene. "We love you, Aretha" she said before going into the next planned song, "Delicate."    

Franklin passed away on Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. Swift's show came at the end of the first day of public visitation for Franklin at the nearby Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where the singer's body lay in a gold-plated coffin in the rotunda for hundreds of visitors. The viewing continues there on Wednesday, then moves to the New Bethel Baptist Church -- where her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was the pastor and where Franklin did some of her earliest singing -- for a more limited visitation on Thursday. An all-star memorial concert will be held  that night at Detroit's Chene Park Amphitheatre, while Franklin's funeral will be Friday, Aug. 31, at the Greater Grace Temple in northwest Detroit, limited to friends, family and invited guests.

The relationship between Swift and Franklin was not always warm. Franklin famously threw a bit of shade at the younger singer during a 2014 Wall Street Journal interview; Asked to comment on the current generation of pop singers, Franklin praised others' voices, but when asked about Swift said, "Ok, uh...Great gowns. Beautiful gowns." Later that year, however, Franklin joined others in serenading Swift for her birthday during a Billboard Music In Women panel discussion.

Camila Cabello, one of Swift's opening acts, also paid tribute to Franklin during her set. "I'd like to say 'Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin,'" she told the crowd. "I know this was her city. I used to sing 'Respect' with my brother. So rest in peace Aretha, Queen of Soul."


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