Aretha Franklin was honored with a tribute at the American Music Awards.
The Queen of Soul died of cancer in mid-August. Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, and CeCe Winans took to the stage at the annual ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, to perform in her honor.
The event’s host, Tracee Ellis Ross, gave an emotional introduction to the segment, hailing Franklin as “our friend, our sister, our queen” before a video montage of the “Say a Little Prayer” hitmaker played, which included footage of her performing at the third-ever AMAs and singing for former President Barack Obama.
Knight then opened the musical tribute with a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which led into performances of songs including “Climbing Higher Mountains”, “Mary, Don’t You Weep”, “How I Got Over”, and other gospel songs.
Aretha’s sons, Jordan Franklin and Kecalf Cunningham, and her granddaughter Victorie Franklin were in attendance for the tribute and admitted ahead of the ceremony that they were “excited” to see what was in store.
Speaking on the red carpet at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater, Jordan told “Entertainment Tonight”: “I’m excited, I didn’t get a chance to check out too many of them. “Just from all the other performances and tributes, it’s always something special. So I’m definitely excited.”
Cunningham added: “[I feel] honored.”
And the family felt it was a fitting tribute to the soul legend.
Jordan explained: “The last time we were here, she did a show here. [It was] maybe a couple years ago, and it was amazing. This exact venue.
“I think she’d be happy to be back and she’d appreciate all the love. She’s here, we’re here so she’s here.”
And ahead of the ceremony, AMA producers Mark Bracco and Baz Halpin had vowed the tribute would be “joyful.”