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Patti LaBelle, John Legend, SZA, Alicia Keys, Common & More Celebrate Aretha Franklin
On Jan. 13, 2019, the historic Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was filled with cheers, laughter and some tears as dozens of stars took to the stage to pay tribute to the late GRAMMY-winning icon Aretha Franklin with a special concert called Aretha! A GRAMMY Celebration For The Queen Of Soul.
Hosted by actor and comedian Tyler Perry, the talent-filled show featured performances from artists spanning generations, including Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys, SZA, Janelle Monáe, John Legend, Yolanda Adams, Common, Alessia Cara, Brandi Carlile, Chloe x Halle, Celine Dion, Fantasia, H.E.R. and more.
Moving Musical Tributes
Every tribute had the packed auditorium either dancing or swaying in their seats; at times the crowd was even moved to standing ovations. As recent first-time GRAMMY winning R&B artist H.E.R. said during her backstage interview, "I don't know one singer that doesn't listen to Aretha Franklin."
H.E.R. brought out her guitar and silky vocals as she sang "I Say A Little Prayer For You." Meanwhile, Fantasia hit all the high notes with grace as fellow GRAMMY winner Rob Thomas joined her for a lively duet of "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," Aretha's 1986 song with GRAMMY winner George Michael.
GRAMMY winner Yolanda Adams also gave two stunning performances, one a rousing nod to Aretha's gospel choir beginnings with a moving medley with fellow GRAMMY-winning gospel singers Shirley Caesar and Bebe Winans.
Earlier in the evening, GRAMMY-winning rapper and social justice advocate Common joined her for a powerful performance of "Young, Gifted And Black," which brought the whole crowd into a booming standing ovation. The song was originally written and recorded by Nina Simone and covered a few years later by Aretha as the GRAMMY-winning title track for her 18th studio album.
Performers also included GRAMMY-nominated R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle, who sang "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves" in coordinating sparkly fringe dresses. GRAMMY-winning Godmother Of Soul Patti LaBelle took it home as she wowed with "Call Me" in a shimmery black pantsuit number. She closing the song singing "We love you Aretha, we'll never forget you," to another standing ovation.
Alicia Keys and John Legend bookended the evening with their powerful voices and mesmerizing piano skills, Keys offering a medley with GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer SZA while Legend took on "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
More Aretha Accolades
In addition to performances from Aretha's admirers and peers, the show featured moving speeches and archival footage, which offered background to the songs and recounted milestones from Aretha's career, including videos of her singing at both Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's Presidential inaugurations.
Fellow GRAMMY-winning, Detroit-raised music icon Smokey Robinson even took it way back as he shared the heartfelt story of meeting a six-year-old Aretha, whom he said would go on to become his "life-long friend" and the "Princess Of Soul." Another longtime friend and music industry icon, GRAMMY-winning producer and all around legend Clive Davis, also gave a powerful speech, asserting "there will never ever be another Aretha."
Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com to watch several full performances from the evening, to be released soon.
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