The Divas Came Out for Aretha Franklin’s Tribute Concert

Jennifer Hudson. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for NARAS

There may not have been any furs tossed around the stage, but the octaves were out in full force on Sunday night to honor our eternally supreme diva, Aretha Franklin, during CBS’s Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul tribute. Aretha-in-training Jennifer Hudson and fellow divas Céline Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, SZA, Patti LaBelle, and Carrie Underwood all tested the full capacity of their lungs with performances from Franklin’s oeuvre — performances that CBS is only releasing in short clips — with the stand-out being Hudson’s equal parts sultry and soulful renditions of “Ain’t No Way” and “Think.”

Tyler Perry, the tribute’s host, also got to pepper in amusing anecdotes about Franklin throughout the show, one of which recalled her penchant for comedy. “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.” Dion, who performed “A Change Is Gonna Come,” added how Franklin was one of her primary musical influences. “You sing with your heart, but she has taught us that, when we believe so much, that it comes from deeper than the heart,” she said, “it comes from the soul.”

The Divas Delivered for Aretha Franklin’s Tribute Concert