Barack Obama Will Miss Aretha Franklin’s Funeral, Sends Letter Instead

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Barack Obama will not be able to attend Aretha Franklin’s funeral. USA Today reports that the former president and first lady will not be present for the legendary singer’s funeral, which is scheduled in Detroit on Friday. The Obama’s spokesperson, Katie Hill, released a statement Wednesday confirming their absence.

“Unfortunately, President and Mrs. Obama will not be able to attend Aretha Franklin’s services on Friday, but they have sent a letter, which the Rev. Al Sharpton will be reading during the service.”

Former presidents Obama and George W. Bush are expected to read a eulogy for late Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who passed away on August 25.

Franklin has a long history of performing with presidents. Franklin performed at president Jimmy Carter’s inaugural gala in 1977, and then at the inauguration of president Bill Clinton in 1993. Franklin performed again for president Clinton in 1999 at the White House Correspondents Association’s dinner, and Clinton awarded her with the National Medal of Arts and Humanities during a White House ceremony later that same year. In 2005, President Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Franklin was also selected to perform at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, with a haunting performance of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Franklin famously moved former president Obama to tears during her performance of her hit song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” during the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.

After Franklin’s passing, Obama released a statement that declared her importance to the nation.

“America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade— our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that former President Bill Clinton will attend at speak at Franklin’s funeral. Reactions on social media to Obama’s absence seem critical, with some on Twitter expressing concern and surprise that the former president will not attend the services, considering his bond with Franklin.

USA Today also notes that as of today, there is no response from the White House on whether President Donald Trump or First Lady Melania Trump will attend Franklin’s funeral.