Bishop Charles H. Ellis III will think twice about ordering the next time he goes to Taco Bell.
The American Apostolic Pentecostal preacher was officiating Aretha Franklin’s 6½-hour “Celebration of Life” funeral service on Friday at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit when he brought up the famed fast-food eatery.
Ellis had just watched singer Ariana Grande honor Franklin with a cover of the Queen of Soul’s signature song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” — a performance so moving to Ellis that he had to eat his words afterwards.
“I’ve got to apologize because I have to brush up,” Ellis said, joining Grande on stage. “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”
“My 28-year-old daughter tells me, ‘Dad! You are old at 60’ ” he joked.
Grande — clad in a black dress and wearing her trademark high-pony — laughed in response, giving Ellis a hug.
“Girl, let me give you all your respect,” Ellis said, asking the crowd. “Did you enjoy this icon? She is an icon herself. Come on, make her feel loved.”
Fans on Twitter were quick to react — some with disgust and others with laughter.
“Bishop was wrong for that Taco Bell reference,” one wrote. “Ariana and her pony tail did not deserve that #ArethaHomegoing”
“That Taco Bell thing that was said to Ariana grande was a joke, something that y’all can’t seem to ever take,” said another.
Grande wasn’t mad, though. Before leaving the stage, she uttered a heartfelt “We love you, Aretha!” into the microphone. Her husband-to-be, Pete Davidson, watched proudly from the audience.
The “God Is a Woman” singer was joined by a star-studded list of performers that included Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp and Vanessa Bell Armstrong.
Gwendolyn Quinn, a Franklin family spokeswoman, previously told the Free Press that “Aretha was fond” of Grande, and that Franklin’s family appreciated Grande’s tribute to Franklin — who died on Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer at age 76 — on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this month.
“I met her a few times. We sang at the White House, and she was so sweet, and she was so cute,” Grande told Fallon. “I was like, ‘How are you a real person?’ It’s an honor to have met her, and we’re gonna celebrate her.”
Grande continued, “She called me one time. It was one time only. She called me. She goes, ‘Hi, it’s Aretha.’ And I was like, ‘Franklin?’”
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As Grande’s fans speculated whether or not Franklin’s death would overshadow Grande’s release of her new album Sweetener, the young pop star shared two Instagram posts in honor of Franklin. “Forever,” she wrote alongside a video of Franklin singing “I Say a Little Prayer.”
Meanwhile, Franklin’s funeral continues on.