Mourners queue to see Aretha Franklin lying in state in Detroit

Aretha Franklin

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Many of those in line are from Detroit, but others traveled from as far as Las Vegas and Miami.

On Aug. 16, Franklin died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Detroit native LaTonya Edwards, 40, brought her 14-year-old son, Lamon.

"I was so stunned when we took the body out of the hearse, people all over the crowd were tearful and saying, 'I love you Aretha,"' Swanson said.

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"[Older family members] would listen to her music", he said. "She didn't forget where she came from".

The associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech said Franklin is "being honored nearly like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States".

Tiffany Dorsey wore a t-shirt with Franklin's face on the front and "RIP Auntie Reatha Queen on Soul" written on the back. "She's going to be missed". Franklin sang of cruising through the city in a pink Cadillac in her 1985 hit Freeway of Love, which earned her one of her 18 Grammy Awards.

"This was way bigger than I thought it was going to be", he said as fans clamored to jump in the front seat for photos.

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People stood subdued on the marble floor to gaze at the roped-off musical icon, resplendent in her finery and ankles crossed in red pumps.

One of those fans, Cheryl Matthews, never met Franklin but felt close - and hurt by the loss. "She deserves the very best". "She gave so much to this world and she is worth it". "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family".

They queued down the street and around the block before the museum opened with a steady flow trickling inside by mid-morning, an AFP reporter said. "Because she touched your soul". Her sequined dress, pointed heels, lipstick and earrings were all a matching ruby red. "She sent them on birthdays, holidays and special occasions".

A free tribute concert honoring Franklin's life will be held on Thursday evening, before her funeral at the Greater Grace Temple on Friday, where Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson are among stars expected to perform.

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