The performances were a fitting tribute to the late legend.
Perry shared personal moments he’d had with Franklin, including when she surprised him with an unexpected phone call. “I got a call from her one day saying, ‘This is Aretha Franklin.’ I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” he recalled. “She loved [my character] Madea … I did not know what a huge fan she was until she called and just told me. That’s the kind of generous person that she was. She would call you up and encourage you.”
Jennifer Hudson amazed the audience with her covers of “Think,” “Respect,” and “Ain’t No Way.” Alicia Keys and SZA performed “Spirit In The Dark,” “Day Dreaming,” and “You’re All I Need To Get By.” Janelle Mone got things swinging with “Rock Steady.” H.E.R. blew viewers away with “I Say A Little Prayer For You,” while Chole x Halle gave their rendition of “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.” Patti LaBelle sang “Call Me,” and then there was Brandi Carlile, Fantasia, Andra Day, and Alessia Cara who tore down the house with “Natural Woman.”
Check out the performances below.