Charles H. Ellis III, the bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral, apologized, on Friday, to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
After Grande’s performance, Ellis had brought her to the podium, where he cracked a joke about her name sounding like a Taco Bell menu item and awkwardly greeted her on stage.
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. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.
I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there,” he said.