In the hours since the death of Aretha Franklin on Thursday, August 16, there’s been an outpouring of tributes that speak to her massive influence and power as an artist. Among those who have expressed their love for Franklin are the Obamas, as well as fellow music legends like Diana Ross and Elton John. And in an emotional performance on Thursday night, Ariana Grande did her part to honor the Queen of Soul with a rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
In addition to performing Franklin’s 1967 hit, Grande — who appeared on Fallon as part of the press tour for her new album Sweetener and ahead of her performance of “God is a Woman” on the VMAs — described meeting Franklin during a visit to the White House in 2014. “It’s an honor to have met her and we are going to celebrate her,” she said.
She also told Fallon about a surprise phone call she received from Franklin in which the Queen of Soul wanted to send her a CD of her grandson’s music. “‘I’d be honored to listen [to his music], thank you for thinking of me. Text me the MP3 or something,’” Grande recalled saying. Franklin’s response: “‘Well, I don’t know how to do that, so I’m going to send it to you.’”
In the wake of Franklin’s passing, Grande joined a host of other celebrities in posting messages of mourning and celebration of Franklin’s life to social media, uploading a clip of “I Say A Little Prayer” as well as a picture of the two of them together.