Legendary singer Aretha Franklin passed away on Aug. 16 at the age of 76 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. In the wake of this great loss, innumerable people (including former President Barack Obama) have shared their grief and reflected on what this soul singer and civil-rights activist meant to them.
Perhaps one of the most moving tributes to the music titan so far came from Ariana Grande. On the day of Franklin’s passing, the 25-year-old pop star honored her during a visit to “The Tonight Show.” Together with the show’s Grammy Award-winning house band The Roots, Grande performed Franklin’s song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
The song, one of Franklin’s most beloved singles, was first released in 1967. It climbed to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The late singer famously brought Obama to tears with her rendition of the song at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington.
Needless to say, Grande had some pretty big shoes to fill when she took to the stage to honor the Queen of Soul and perform that iconic song on the day of her passing. She nailed it.
Watch her performance below:
Many viewers were moved by the performance, reporting that Grande blew them away and that she did Franklin proud.
@ArianaGrande you did such an amazing job on Aretha Franklin’s ‘A Natural Woman’ … beyond proud of you, just know she would be proud too!
— ♡ ɹǝuǝʇǝǝʍs ♡ (@selrianaroyalty) August 17, 2018
— Rorden Atteo (@Rorden_Dancy) August 17, 2018
Grande herself was moved to tears during her performance, and she also recalled how she first met Franklin.
“I met her a few times. We sang at the White House and she was so sweet, she was so cute,” she told host Jimmy Fallon. “It’s an honor to have met her.”
Grande was referring to 2014 when Michelle Obama organized a Women of Soul concert at the White House, including performances by Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monae and Grande. The event was meant to entertain but also educate people about the incalculable impact that artists like these have had on arts and culture, with the White House describing them as “foremothers” of American music.
Oh, and in case you wanted to see Franklin’s own powerhouse rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” from the Kennedy Center Honors, check it out below.