Bishop at Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Apologizes to Ariana Grande for Inappropriate Touch and Racist Joke
As the world said their goodbyes to the Queen of Soul, aka Aretha Franklin, on Friday during her start-studded funeral at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple — not everything went according to plan. Case in point: Bishop Charles H. Ellis III’s speech.
While honoring Franklin, Ellis nabbed headlines after referring to singer Ariana Grande, who performed an emotional rendition of “A Natural Woman” at the eight hour service, as a menu item at Taco Bell.
As if that wasn’t awkward enough, the bishop seemingly groped Grande on-stage during the televised event, with his hand coming a little too close to her chest.
Ellis is now issuing an apology via the Associated Press, expressing deep regret for his inappropriate behavior. “I personally and sincerely apologize 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.”
He also addressed the uncomfortable touch that visibly upset the pop star. “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 continued. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
“The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin,” Ellis added.
After Ariana’s awe-inspiring performance, the preacher made the cringe-worthy remark, saying: “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”
Grande appeared unaffected by the tone deaf joke, as she offered a laugh and gave Ellis a hug. That’s when the bishop brushed his hand near the songstress’s breast. His action seemingly took Grande aback.
Ariana has yet to respond to Ellis’s apology. We're staying tuned.