Former US president Bill Clinton was among the guests, while letters were read out from his successors George W. Bush and Barack Obama extolling her contribution to America and her cultural importance.
Floral arrangements from such singers as Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and from the family of Otis Redding were set up in a hallway outside the sanctuary.
Aretha Franklin is dressed in a sparkling full-length gold dress with sequined heels for her final outfit.
Other bouquets were sent from the Jackson family, the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Whispers, Atlantic Records, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Tom Joyner, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Don King, and Diana Ross. They are a nod to her 1985 hit "Freeway of Love", an anthem to her Motor City hometown, in which Franklin sang about a pink Cadillac, the auto company that was founded in Detroit in 1902.
Arlesley Grimes, from Detroit, stood waiting to enter with his wife and aunt, "We wanted to send Aretha off on a good note", he said.
Numerous floral arrangements from celebrities including Sam Moore, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand and the family of Otis Redding were set up in a hallwayoutside the sanctuary. "So I came from California to be a part of a new piece of it".
Franklin's white hearse arrived more than two hours before the service is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
Earlier in the day Franklin was honoured at Buckingham Palace. The tribute is a nod to Franklin's funky '80s tune, "Freeway of Love", which prominently featured the vehicle in the lyrics and video. While television stars and politicians mingled inside, fans queued overnight in their funeral finery or Aretha T-shirts, desperate to be among the 1,000 members of the public allowed into the service.
The Motor City is sending the Queen of Soul off in style.
The street outside Greater Grace will be lined with pink Cadillacs - a nod to Franklin's funky '80s tune, "Freeway of Love", which prominently featured the vehicle in the lyrics and video. While other A-list singers on the bill included Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Stevie Wonder, Hill was slated to sing first, in a prime slot.
Opening the ceremony, Bishop Charles H Ellis III, joked that numerous funeral programmes will end up on eBay.
Still, the get-down and uplift can certainly coexist. "We really celebrate because we really recognize that those we call the dearly departed, they wouldn't want for us to cry and be sad and sorrowful". The Band of the Welsh Guards are world famous for their musical versatility and professional performance and this morning paid tribute to another musical icon and one that has been of huge influence and inspiration to our musicians - Aretha Franklin, whose funeral was being held in Detroit 3,748 miles away, at the same time of the Queen's Guard Change.