By Damilola Faustino
The bishop who led Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised to Ariana Grande for how he touched her while onstage.
Bishop Charles H Ellis III also expressed regret over a joke he made about her name.
A video of the moment the bishop wrapped his arm around Grande after she performed Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman has been shared widely online.
In the video, his hand appears to touch the side of her breast.
I don’t care what you think about Ariana Grande, her music or her dress. This is wrong. That bishop’s hand should not be on her breast: I just saw this because I’ve been working and not watching pic.twitter.com/ixVhgYBJTN
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 1, 2018
Many viewers expressed outrage over the clip, and within hours the hashtag #RespectAriana was trending worldwide with 90,000 tweets.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast… I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Bishop Ellis said.
“Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.”
The preacher said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s seven-hour service.
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” he said.
“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.”
He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
Although many criticised the preacher and said the singer looked uncomfortable when it happened, Grande has made no public comment about the matter.
The bishop also apologised to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about seeing her name on the programme and thinking it was a new item on the menu at Taco Bell, a Tex-Mex chain of fast food restaurants popular in the US.
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