Ariana Grande performs emotional tribute to 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin
On Thursday morning, music icon Aretha Franklin passed away at the age of 76. The legendary singer, who won 18 Grammy Awards and sold 75 million records worldwide, had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2010. She died in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by friends and family.
On social media, fans and celebrities mourned the 'Queen of Soul.' John Legend called her "the greatest vocalist I've ever known." Barbara Streisand praised her "commitment to civil rights," which had an "indelible impact on the world. And former President Barack Obama wrote, "Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect."
25-year-old singer Ariana Grande also posted a tribute. She shared a photo of her and Aretha, with a cpation of empty heart emojis. Back in 2014, they met at the White House to perform at Michelle Obama's "Woman of Soul" concert. Other performers included Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monae. Franklin closed the show with Amazing Grace, while Grande joined several women to sing Proud Mary.
Ariana's fourth album, Sweetener, drops today, which is why she's been booked on so many talk shows. A couple days ago, she appeared on The Late Late Show, performed an incredible tribute to the movie Titanic. Last night, she was booked on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and decided to perform a last-minute tribute to Aretha Franklin.
Backed by house band The Roots, Ariana sang an emotional rendition of Aretha's timeless 1967 pop hit, Natural Woman. No one will ever replace Aretha, who many say had one of the greatest voices in music. However, fans praised Ariana's version, and reportedly the studio audience gave her a standing ovation.
During an interview with Jimmy, Ariana explained that she met the Queen a couple times. "We sang at the White House and she was so sweet," said Ariana. "She was so cute and I was like, 'How are you a real person?' It's an honor to have met her."
Ariana also told a story about how Aretha wanted her to listen music created by a relative. She told the legend to "Just text me the MP3 or something." "And she was like, 'Well, I don't know how to do that so I'm just gonna send it to you,'" said Ariana. "And then, like, four months later I got a package with a CD, but it was nice. It was great."
In 2015, Aretha appeared on SiriusXM, and teased the idea of a collaboration with Ariana. "I think Ariana and I are gonna duet," said Aretha. "You like that? I think we have a hot duo going." Unfortunately, that collaboration never happened, but fans of both singers loved Ari's powerful cover of Natural Woman.