The singer's body was transported in a vintage white hearse used by civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.
Franklin's body was dressed in gold and sequinned heels, with flower bouquets from close friends Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett greeting those in attendance.
In the Army Respect for others underpins all that we do, so there was only one tune that would do for today's ceremony: the 1967 Aretha Franklin hit "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." a declaration from a strong confident woman who knows that she has everything.
Outside, dozens of pink Cadillac owners worked together to pay their respects, lining the road ahead of Franklin's funeral. Singers include Steve Wonder, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill and Chaka Khan.
Besides the Detroit mayor, former President Bill Clinton, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were to speak, signifying Franklin's political and social influence. When Franklin's casket was escorted into the museum, 46-year-old Sir Diego Brazil of North Miami Beach, Florida, said he couldn't help but burst into a rendition of Amazing Grace.
Friday's service will touch on Franklin's significance to her friends, family and fans, organizers told CNN.More news: Widow and children lead mourners at service for John McCain
Although the service is limited to family members, friends and selected guests, you can watch it streaming online.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit began speaking almost two hours after the ceremony had been slated to begin.
Ever the diva, Franklin's outfit was the third "costume change" over the course of her several viewings since her death on 16 August: this final time, a rose gold gown.
"It is my goal and my aim to ensure that people leave here with some kind of spiritual awakening", Ellis said. And through her own voice, Aretha lifted those of millions, empowering and inspiring the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and everyone who may have just needed a little love'. "This is not a concert, this is not a show, this is not an awards production".
"My husband said, 'Wouldn't it be awesome if we could have a sea of pink Cadillacs parked on Seven Mile Road to greet Ms. Aretha Franklin as she arrives?'" Ellis told NPR.