Ariana Grande brought the ‘Tonight Show’ audience to their feet and to tears by paying tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, covering her classic ‘Natural Woman.’ We’ve got the moving video.
What a trooper!Ariana Grande was scheduled to stop by The Tonight Show on Aug. 16 to talk about her new album Sweetener dropping at midnight and tape a skit with host Jimmy Fallon. But her appearance turned into so much more. In honor of soul legend Aretha Franklin who passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 76 earlier in the day, the 25-year-old paid tribute by opening the show to her classic “Natural Woman.” It was so emotional that the audience gave her a standing ovation and Ari was on the verge of tears. Later she broke down and cried backstage, overwhelmed by paying tribute to her hero according to TMZ. She began the song just accompanied by a piano and her incredible voice, as the rest of the band kicked in when she got to the chorus.
Ariana absolutely worshipped Aretha. The “God is a Woman” singer has one of the most powerful voices in music today, but Aretha had one of the most iconic voices in all of music history. To try to do her justice had to have been so difficult, both emotionally and vocally. When news of Aretha’s passing broke, Ariana posted a video from way back in the day of the legend singing her now classic “I Say A Little Prayer” to her Instagram account and writing “Forever” next to it with a heart.
Ari also posted a black and white photo posing with her musical heroine. She’s nuzzled up cheek to cheek to Aretha and has the most genuinely happy smile on her face. How could she not being in the presence of such greatness? Instead of a caption she simply added numerous lines of black and white hearts to show her love and admiration for the Queen of Soul.
TMZ reported that when Ariana arrived at the studio to tape her sketch, producers asked her to sing one of Aretha’s songs in her honor. She turned them down, saying the death left her way too emotional as Aretha was one of her idols. It took Jimmy’s house band leader Questlove to convince her do to “Natural Woman” backed up by him and The Roots so Ariana finally agreed. She wasn’t scheduled as a musical guest so it must have been hard for her to pull it together at the last minute like that. But being such an Aretha fan she already knew all of the words to “Natural Woman” by heart so everything went down smoothly.