When paying respects to the memory of one of music's greatest ever vocalists, it only makes sense that you'd tap music's biggest stars to cover her iconic tunes, and Sunday night's broadcast pulled out all the stops.
The star-studded musical event -- which was taped back in January -- was hosted by Tyler Perry, and featured some incredible vocal performances from an all-star line-up of epic singers, starting with Jennifer Hudson.
Hudson opened the show with two of Franklin's most iconic tunes, "Respect" and "Think," with flawless ease that truely showcased her musical talents, and kicked the tribute off on a pitch perfect note.
Alicia Keys and SZA later hit the stage for a jaw-dropping medley that included Franklin's famed tunes "Spirit in the Dark," "Day Dreaming," and "You’re All I Need to Get By."
Kelly Clarkson later took the stage for a powerful, spotlight-commanding rendition of "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," that raised the bar higher than it had already been set -- a bar that was quickly cleared by a masterful performances of "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Celine Dion.
ET's Nischelle Turner spoke with Dion backstage at the show, and the celebrated songstress opened up about what Franklin taught her about music.
"You sing with your heart, but she has taught us that, when we believe so much, that it comes from deeper than the heart, it comes from the soul," she said. "So we did not invent those words, she gave those words. She put those words into our repertoire, into our lives and dreams…our performances."
"I feel extremely, extremely fortunate and honored that they called me to pay tribute to her because I think that we all took through the years a little part of her," Dion added. "We did not sing her tonight, we lived her."
Later in the show, John Legend also joined the line-up to pay tribute to Franklin with a performance of the iconic artist's gospel-tinged cover of the beloved 1970 Simon & Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."
"Tonight I am honored to salute the queen by singing a song on which she demonstrated her genius as an interpretive singer, musician and arranger," Legend told the audience while seated in front of a grand piano. "Now, Paul Simon has said this is one of the best covers ever of one of his songs, so we're gonna cover her cover version tonight. Thank you, Aretha, for your example of what it means to be a true singer, a true artist, who offered us all a bridge over troubled waters."
The night closed on a high note with a quartet performance -- featuring Alessia Cara, Fantasia, Brandi Carlile, Andra Day -- who came together for an amazing rendition of perhaps Franklin's most-covered and widely celebrated female anthem, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
The tribute also featured appearances from Janelle Monae, who sang Franklin's 1971 hit "Rock Steady," H.E.R. singing "I Say a Little Prayer," a showstopping performance from Patti LaBelle who sang "I Dreamed a Dream," and "Call Me," along with a slew of other epic numbers.
ET spoke with Perry, who deftly handled hosting the fun, emotional special, and the filmmaker and actor explained why Franklin's music had so rightfully deserved this enormous tribute.
"Her voice crosses so many generations and so many genres and so many dark and turbulent times. She sang us through some of the most difficult times in this country, like the assassination to Dr. Martin Luther King, to some of the most glorious times, [including] Obama's inauguration," Perry reflected. "So her legacy, and that voice, is a part of the soundtrack to all of our lives. That's why its so important."
That sentiment was echoed by actress Angela Bassett, who spoke on stage during the tribute. "She was a just a strong, sterling, beautiful, female black example of excellence, of talent, of true God given talent, and the pride of her community," Bassett told ET.
"One of the things that sticks with me about her music too, as a black woman, is she was talking about sexuality. Owning who you are as a black woman," Bassett continued. "And we really didn't hear women talking about that and being proud of being sexual and loving and all of those things, which kind of blew my mind."
The all-star tribute comes nearly seven months after Franklin died at her home in Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by her loved ones, on Aug. 18, as a result of advanced pancreatic cancer, at the age of 76.
For more on the Queen of Soul's unparalleled life and legacy, watch the video below.