Hundreds of high profile figures attended Aretha Franklin’s over-six-hour funeral on August 31, which saw performances from singers such as Faith Hill, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, and Ariana Grande, whose emotional rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was well-received. Perhaps too well-received by some, fans speculated, after Bishop Charles Ellis III, who led the ceremony, “got very handsy” with the singer.
The bishop’s admittedly awkward greeting of Grande when she finished the song saw him embracing her with his hand resting uncomfortably close to her breast, spawning the hashtag “#RespectAriana”, which trended worldwide.
Later, the bishop apologised. “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” he told the Associated Press. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar. But again, I apologise.” He also explained how he had hugged all performers at Franklin’s service, both female and male.
Inappropriate touching wasn’t the only thing the bishop apologised for, though. He also addressed his joke about thinking Grande’s name, when he saw it on the programme, was a new item on the menu at Taco Bell. Probably not the best thing to say at one of the most public ceremonies of the year (it was also livestreamed internationally).
Grande hasn’t publicly responded to the accusations or the apology.
Presumably, the singer will be treated better by Davina McCall in her recently-announced hour-long special for the BBC, which will feature an in-depth interview and performances.
I think every woman can look at Ariana Grande's face and body language and viscerally feel what she's feeling. The tension. The nervous laughter. Not wanting to make a scene or make him angry. Every woman knows this feeling.