The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral, Charles H. Ellis III, apologized Friday to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
Accompanied by her fiance Pete Davidson, Grande traveled to Detroit to attend the ceremony and perform one of Franklin’s signature hits, “(You Make Me Feel Like) “A Natural Woman,” which she previously sang on the “Tonight Show” on Aug. 16 shortly after Franklin’s death.
After Grande’s performance, Ellis , the officiant leading the service, brought the singer to the podium, where he cracked a joke about her name sounding like a Taco Bell menu item and awkwardly greeted her on stage.
Images of the moment showed Ellis’ hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
The preacher apologized in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said, adding: “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
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Source: USA Today