Six months after the Queen of Soul passed away on Aug. 16, the Grammys honored Aretha Franklin with a spine-tingling tribute befitting her legacy.
There was – and will only ever be – one Queen of Soul. But, on Feb. 10, three of the best voices in the industry – Fantasia, 34, Andra Day, 34, and gospel singer Yolanda Adams, 57, gave a breathtaking Grammys tribute befitting the icon that was Aretha Franklin, who passed away in August at the age of 76. The three women began the tribute immediately after the In Memoriam segment of the show, by singing a gorgeous rendition of Aretha’s hit song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” The ladies brought the audience to its feet with their pure, layered vocals. Their performance was heartbreakingly brief, but powerful nevertheless.
Paying tribute to a talent and voice as rich and unforgettable as Aretha’s is beyond a tall order. The Grammys’ attempt is the latest in a string of musical tributes that have taken place in the six months since the singer passed away of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16, 2018. Her Aug. 31 funeral itself was a nine-hour long extravaganza, which featured musical tributes from a galaxy of stars, including country singer Faith Hill, pop artist Ariana Grande, the powerhouse vocals of Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia, and a performance by gospel group, the Clark Sisters.
Other tributes were not as well received, however. A few days earlier, at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York on Aug. 20, Madonna honored Miss Aretha with a lengthy monologue, which was widely panned, because viewers felt that she was speaking about herself too much. The 60-year-old singer partly said, “Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life.”
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Months later, in October 2018, the American Music Awards celebrated the Queen of Soul’s life with a gospel tribute, which featured the voices of Gladys Knight, CeCe Winans and Donnie McClurkin.
It’s fitting that the Recording Academy would pull out all the stops to celebrate Aretha Franklin as, during her seven decade career she was nominated a stunning 44 times and won a total of 18. She took home awards for a string of hits including, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” in 1987, “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” in 1974 and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in 1971. She won her very first two Grammys in 1967 for her signature song “Respect” and that is something her peers have often given her during her life and now that she is no longer with us.