Barack and Michelle Obama Remember Aretha Franklin in Moving Tribute


Barack and Michelle Obama are feeling the loss of Aretha Franklin.

Barack and Michelle Obama are feeling the loss of Aretha Franklin.

The legendary singer died on Thursday and had a deeply personal connection with the Obamas. Aretha sang at Barack's presidential inauguration in 2009 and the former president was also memorably moved to tears during her performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.

Aretha was also invited to sing at multiple White House functions, including a farewell ceremony for Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department in February 2015.

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Barack and Michelle released a statement on Thursday about Aretha's death, eloquently describing her legacy and her importance to music history.

"America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring," the statement reads. "Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father's congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade -- our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance."

"Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all," the statement continues. "May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song."

Meanwhile, Michelle also tweeted separately about Aretha's death, remembering watching her perform multiple times.

"Watching Aretha Franklin perform at the White House, and on so many other occasions, made time stand still," she wrote. "@BarackObama and I are holding Aretha’s family in our hearts right now. She will forever be our Queen of Soul."

Aretha almost stole the show at Barack's first presidential inauguration in 2009, singing “My Country ’Tis of Thee” while sporting a now iconic gray hat adorned with a giant bow. In 2013, she talked about singing completely live.

"I wanted to give people the real thing and pre-recording never crossed [her] mind," she told ABC News at the time.

In 2015, Aretha's incredible performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” honoring Carole King -- the song’s co-writer -- at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors left the audience and viewers alike stunned. Aretha received a standing ovation before the song was even over, Carole herself standing and cheering her on during her epic vocal runs. Viewers also noticed Barack appearing to wipe away a tear as he watched her sing.

For a look back at the heartwarming moment, watch the video below: