The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral apologized to Ariana Grande and ‘the whole Hispanic community’, awkwardly mislabeling her background.
Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral service in Detroit, which was attended by Ariana Grande and her fiance Pete Davidson. Grande performed one of Franklin’s hits, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman which she also sang as a tribute on August 16 after Franklin’s death.
After Grande finished her performance, Ellis came up on stage and brought the singer to the podium. He cracked a joke about her name sounding like a Taco Bell menu item. During their interaction, he also held her above her waist, his fingers pressing against the side of her chest.
After the service, images of Grande and Ellis started circulating social media and the hashtag #RespectAriana went viral on Twitter.
this is so disgusting what he did and she also got gross looks from clinton or whatever is his last name plus she got criticized bc of a dress?! wtf is this?! women can wear whatever they want. ari or any woman doesn’t deserve this #RespectAriana i hope u r okay @ArianaGrande pic.twitter.com/foao7Qu1IX
— – ariana grande 💭♡ (@notearsforari) September 1, 2018
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Ellis has apologized for his behavior, saying he had not meant any disrespect.
He said, “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He further explained, “I hug all the female artists and the male artists. 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,” he added.
He also personally apologized to Grande, saying, “I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
Ariana did not create an issue of the situation at the time, and has not commented on it so far.