Faith Hill revisited the Mississippi gospel-music roots of her youth with a powerful performance of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” during Friday’s funeral service for R&B legend Aretha Franklin at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. Franklin died August 16th after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.
The first of several musical performances planned for the six-and-a-half-hour service, Hill’s reading of the 19th century hymn, backed by the church choir, captured the spirit of Franklin’s original live performance of the song, which was recorded in 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Seated behind her were several of the additional participants in the service, including former president Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Hill and her husband Tim McGraw opened several of the shows on their 2017-2018 Soul2Soul Tour with a performance of “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” the Number One pop hit Franklin scored with George Michael in 1987. After Franklin’s passing, Hill shared a photo of herself with the music icon, accompanied by a message that began, “The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus.”
In 1994, Hill’s second hit single, and second Number One, was “Piece of My Heart,” a song first recorded in 1967 by Aretha Franklin’s older sister, Erma.