The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral is apologizing to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral on Friday and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Images of the moment showed Ellis’ hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
The preacher apologized in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday.
“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 said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis 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.”
Ellis also apologized to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about seeing her name on the program and thinking it was a new item on the Taco Bell menu.