In an interview with the Associated Press, the bishop who led Aretha Franklin’s funeral apologized on Friday for his conduct toward Ariana Grande after she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who greeted Grande onstage after her performance, said he was sorry for touching her inappropriately (he held the 25-year-old artist well above her waist) and thinking her name was a new menu item at Taco Bell. “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 told the AP. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He continued. “I hug all the female artists and the male artists. 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. 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 the Hispanic community for that Taco Bell joke. “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.”
During the program on Friday, Ellis awkwardly greeted Grande, saying, “I’ve got to apologize because I have to brush up my — my 28-year-old daughter tells me, ‘Dad, you are old at 60.’ ”
“What did you do? What happened?” Grande asked, laughing.
“When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” Ellis said. “Girl, let me give you all your respect.”