At the 2011 Grammy Awards, sisters were doing it for each other. While the legendary Aretha Franklin may not have been able to attend (the 68-year-old singer underwent surgery in late 2010), some of today’s fiercest female vocalists came together to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul.
Introduced by LL Cool J, a diverse quintet of “musical princesses” composed of Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Florence Welch and Yolanda Adams, opened the Grammy ceremony with a medley of Franklin tunes, kicking things off with the timeless “(You Me Make Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” which they all sang on together.
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From there on, each powerhouse performer did her own solo as the other four provided backup harmonies, all while images of the indelible Franklin appeared in the background.
Aguilera, fresh off last weekend’s now-notorious Super Bowl national anthem mishap, didn’t miss a beat (or lyric, for that matter) of Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way,” which segued to country superstar McBride’s cover of “Until You Come Back to Me.”
Welch, whose band Florence and the Machine are vying for Best New Artist this year, took over the duties of singing the classic “Think (Freedom).” Then Hudson belted out the unrequited feminism anthem “Respect.”
Adams brought her gospel sound to the song “Spirit in the Dark” before all five women closed out with “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” bringing the Grammy crowd to their feet.
After the performance, Franklin appeared via a video message in which she thanked Aguilera, Hudson, McBride, Welch and Adams, telling them, “I love you all.” Standing before a piano in a white dress, the still-recovering Franklin went on to thank Clive Davis, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, and all the well-wishers who sent her cards, flowers and “most, importantly, your prayers.”
“I wish I could have been there with all of you tonight,” Franklin said, adding she hoped to be in attendance next year. After wishing the 2011 Grammy nominees good luck, Franklin concluded, “Thank you so much. I love you all. Have a good evening.”
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