Faith Hill faced a daunting challenge when she performed at Aretha Franklin’s memorial service, held Friday at the Greater Grace Temple in Franklin’s home city of Detroit. 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. And while no one could claim Hill’s rendition of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (which Hill has performed many times before) wasn’t passionate and sincere, it seemed nerves got the better of her Friday.
Hill’s alternately screechy and flat performance instantly ignited a Twitter firestorm, with many roasters employing Franklin’s famously shady “great gowns” remark about another blond country singer, Taylor Swift, to snarkily criticize Hill’s attempt to do the traditional Christian hymn justice.
Jesus: How did you feel about Faith Hill’s tribute?
— Ashley Cedillo (@ACnotAshley) August 31, 2018
God: What did you think about Faith Hill's performance?
— 🗣️📢 (@LIQUIDCILVER) August 31, 2018
Faith Hill had on a beautiful gown.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) August 31, 2018
— Kang Yung Jai (@JayYoun97074352) August 31, 2018
Oh sister Faith Hill… please find a note. pic.twitter.com/gw4JdbkP2X
— Eric Perry (@actingeric) August 31, 2018
OK, Faith Hill seems like a super generous spirit, and I like her. And she's got a decent voice. She just didn't have it today. Eeeek. #ArethaHomegoing #ArethaFranklinFuneral pic.twitter.com/xEFhEKHYKo
— TheRealCamille (@CamilleEChavez) August 31, 2018
However, other fans tweeted support, pointing out that even if Hill’s performance wasn’t note-perfect, it came from the heart, because she and Franklin were friends and the Franklin family clearly wanted her there. Others noted that Hill wasn’t as out of place at Greater Grace Temple as some may have believed, as she was raised a devout Baptist and, like Franklin, launched her singing career in the church.
Wikipedia tells me that Faith Hill grew up in the Baptist church in Mississippi. She was right at home.
— Verbs McGillicuddy (@Omagus) August 31, 2018
Why all the shade for Faith Hill? She was a friend. She was a fan. She was asked to take part. And she had enough love in her heart to do the best she could. Aretha thought she was good enough. Why can’t you? #ArethaHomegoing
— SheriO (@Fite4theRite) August 31, 2018
I know what Faith Hill was tryna achieve. But that wasn't it. Anyhow, her heart clean and she's Aretha's friend. That counts.
— Kelly (@KellyKatharin) August 31, 2018
For what it’s worth, when Franklin died Aug. 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, Hill was one of first among the diva’s many celebrity friends to pay tribute. Hill posted on Instagram: “GLORY, GLORY, GLORY to the ALMIGHTY!!! The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus. I wanted to share this photo because it shows just how soulful Aretha was without uttering a word. To say I was humbled to be in her presence would be an understatement.”
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