The bishop who officiated at Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
Bishop Charles H Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Images of the moment showed Ellis’s hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
The preacher apologised in an interview at the cemetery where Franklin was interred on Friday, August 31, 2018.
“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. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.”
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service. “I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. 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.”
Many people posted closeup images of the moment on Twitter, tagging it #RespectAriana.
Ellis also apologised to Grande for making a joke about seeing her name on the programme and thinking it was a new item on the Taco Bell menu.
“I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to her whole community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a programme for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
Grande has previously clarified that she is in fact of Italian rather than Hispanic descent.
No, I'm actually Italian! Part Abruzzo and part Sicilian. 🙂 RT @bianqui_creates @ArianaGrande are you part Hispanic/Latin?
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 8, 2010
Grande’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Read more at The Guardian