Ariana Grande: See Her Powerful Tribute to the Late, Great Aretha Franklin

Ariana Grande was scheduled to go on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday night to promote the debut of her incredible new album, Sweetener.

But whatever plans they had made for her were scrapped when the legendary Aretha Franklin died at 76.

Instead, Ariana and The Roots collaborated on a powerful, evocative tribute to the late Queen of Soul. Hear it for yourself:

In the moving tribute video that we have included, Ariana Grande covers “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” with The Roots providing the instrumentals.

But Ariana also sat down with Fallon and spoke about her experience with the legendary Aretha, including having met her.

“I met her a few times,” Ariana admits. “We sang at the White House and she was so sweet and she was so cute, and I was like, ‘How are you a real person?’”

Ariana, Aretha, and Obama under one roof must have been a powerful experience for others there.

“It’s an honor to have met her,” Ariana says with all due reverence.

Ariana also revealed to Fallon that she had been called by Aretha, out of the blue.

“She called me one time, one time only,” Ariana shares. “And she goes ‘Hi, it’s Aretha,’ and I’m like, ‘Franklin?!'”

Literally imagine that happening to you. (Pretend that it’s in a world where anyone picks up the phone for a number that they don’t recognize)

Ariana explains that Aretha had asked if she would be willing to listen to some music by her “nephew or her grandson.”

She describes her reaction: “I was like, “Oh my god, I’d be honored to listen. Thank you for thinking of me. Just text me the MP3 or something.’”

Aretha was already in her 70s at this point, so texting her the MP3 wasn’t really in the cards.

Ariana explains: “And she was like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that so I’m just gonna send it to you.’”

When Ariana said this, my first thought was well an email is fine, but that’s not what Aretha meant.

“And then,” Ariana reveals. “Like, four months later I got a package with a CD.”

“But it was nice,” Ariana says. “It was great.”

Aretha passed away at 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Gwendolyn Quinn was her longtime publicist, and she released a formal statement.

“In one of the darkest moments of our lives,” Quinn says. “We are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”

Aretha is a legend, mourned by millions — but none knew and loved her so well as her family.

The statement continues: “The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

Quinn and the family thanked fans for their kindness during this difficult time.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters, and fans all around the world,” the statement continues.

“Thank you for your compassion and prayers,” the family says. “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”

Her voice touched so many.

“As we grieve,” the family asks. “We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Of course.

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