The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologized after being accused of groping Ariana Grande onstage.
What was up with that pastors hand? pic.twitter.com/M8Ypgm7fQB
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) August 31, 2018
The God is a Woman hitmaker performed alongside Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan at the memorial service in Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday (31Aug18).
Before she sang her rendition of Franklin’s hit, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Bishop Charles H Ellis III spoke to the 25-year-old singer and placed his hand high above her waist, with his fingers squeezed around the side of Grande’s chest.
Many people on social media shared photos from the ceremony, and commented that the singer also looked uncomfortable.
The preacher apologised in an interview with the Associated Press later on Friday.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar. But again, I apologise,” Ellis said.
He added that he hugged all artists, male or female, during the six-hour ceremony commemorating the Queen of Soul.
“That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love. The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin,” he said.
Ellis also apologised directly to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about her name.
“When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he joked during the ceremony, prompting the singer to burst out in laughter, before giving the 60-year-old preacher a hug.
However, many on social media were outraged at the joke.
“I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
– Cover Media0