Ariana Grande Was Asked To Perform At Aretha Franklin’s Memorial Service After Her Moving 'Tonight Show' Tribute
The world will come together to mourn the loss of Aretha Franklin during her memorial service on Aug. 31. As is appropriate to honor the Queen of Soul, the event will be full of musical performances — and another artist was just added to the list. Ariana Grande will perform at Franklin's memorial service in Detroit on Friday, the Associated Press reports. The "No More Tears Left To Cry" singer will join previously-announced artists like Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill, Chaka Khan, and Fantasia Barrino. Nearly two weeks after Franklin's passing, Grande was added to the memorial service based on her recent tribute to Franklin.
On Aug. 16, Franklin died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 and Grande acknowledged the influential singer's passing on her social media. She shared a video of Franklin singing "I Say A Little Prayer" on Twitter and posted a photo of the two of them with hearts and a cloud emoji as the caption on her official Instagram. That same day, Grande appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to promote her new album Sweetener, which dropped on Aug. 17. To honor the singer, Grande quickly teamed up with Fallon's house band The Roots to perform a moving rendition of Franklin's 1967 hit song "Natural Woman."
As the AP noted, Franklin's publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said that Franklin's family was moved by Grande's performance. And this tribute led to them inviting the young singer to be a part of the memorial service. The 25-year-old artist told Fallon during The Tonight Show that she had gotten the opportunity to meet Franklin before she died. "I met her a few times. We sang at the White House and she was so sweet and she was so cute. I was like, 'How are you a real person?' It's an honor to have met her and we're gonna celebrate her," Grande said.
Grande and Franklin met back in 2014 at the White House's Women of Soul event. While they did not perform together, The Detroit News reported that Quinn said, "Aretha liked her." Grande also told Fallon how Franklin had called her once for a favor. One of Franklin's family members had made music that he wanted Grande to listen to. So besides Grande having the vocal chops to do Franklin justice, she also has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul.
Franklin's memorial service is invite-only, but fans will be able to stream it via the AP's website when it starts on Friday at 10 a.m. ET. And in addition to the artists already named, viewers can expect to see performances by Shirley Caesar, Jennifer Holliday, Yolanda Adams, and Franklin's son Edward. The memorial service will also feature gospel performers since Franklin was a major presence in that genre of music as well. (The last Grammy that Franklin won was in 2007 for Best Gospel Performance for her song, "Never Gonna Break My Faith.")
Grande is riding the high of being recently engaged to Pete Davidson and the success of her latest album Sweetener, she will take some time out to pay her respects to the Queen of Soul on Friday as the world watches.