Ariana Grande delivered a powerful performance dedicated to the late Aretha Franklin during The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, August 16th. The “No Tears Left to Cry” singer, 25, shed a few for Franklin while singing her iconic “Natural Woman” following the iconic Motown singer’s death Thursday morning.
Grande honored the late singer with powerhouse vocals reminiscent of Franklin’s stage presence wearing a glittering black suit and a high ponytail as she was accompanied by The Roots.
“I met her a few times. We sang at the White House and she was so sweet, she was so cute,” Grande said of meeting Franklin for the first time. “It’s an honor to have met her.”
The “God is a woman” singer paid tribute to Franklin earlier on Thursday upon hearing the news she had passed away. Grande shared a black-and-white photo of herself with her arm around the legendary singer with heart emojis. In addition, she also shared a video of Franklin belting out “I Say a Little Prayer,” captioning it “forever.”
Jimmy Fallon also shared memories of Franklin, telling his audience after opening the show that when she came onto his show they weren’t allowed air conditioning.
“No air conditioning for the whole day, because it’s bad for the vocal chords,” he explained, adding Questlove “almost” fainted when she walked onto their set. Fallon said everyone on set could feel the heat — except Franklin.
“We get to the end of the show… and she walks out in a long fur coat,” he said. “She’s laughing and goes, ‘I’m cold.’”
“She was so funny and charming and nice to every single person on our staff,” Fallon continued. “She would call us – even up to last year — and say, ‘Tell Jimmy I’m watching the show before bed.’”
Franklin, who was 76, died of advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, her publicist told PEOPLE: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds,” the family said in a statement.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.