*Some of the biggest names in gospel were in the house at the 2018 American Music Awards Tuesday night to honor the late Aretha Franklin. And it was truly an unforgettable performance befitting the Queen of Soul.
The tribute came together under the direction of musical director Ricky Minor. It featured Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans in a powerful medley of the Aretha’s gospel hits.
Before the show, Knight revealed to AMA pre-show hosts Jessie James Decker and Zach Sang just how blessed she feels to be honoring her childhood friend — an artist who will live on forever.
“I am so very honored to have known her since we were both little girls,” she said. “The fact that her music has been so pure for all of these years — she touched everybody with her music simply because she chose it with her heart, she didn’t choose anything she didn’t believe.
“I’m the same way in the industry, so we had those things in common, as well,” she added. “She deserves this recognition, this tribute, all of these things for being around for this long.”
As has been reported, Franklin died on Aug. 19 from pancreatic cancer. She was 76.
Franklin, who last performed on the AMAs stage in 1986, won six AMAs throughout her career and hosted the awards show in 1976 and 1983.
“When I heard some of the initial ideas for the tribute, I knew without a doubt that this tribute will go down as one of the best in American music,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and the executor of her estate, told the Associated Press in September.
“It’s a blessing to be a part of this moving musical tribute to honor our late queen and sister, Aretha. She was an icon and visionary, radiated light and love through all of her life’s work, and touched all of us through her incredible gift of music,” Knight said in a statement when the Franklin tribute was first announced.