Madonna Honors Aretha Franklin With Personal VMA Tribute

Madonna Aretha Franklin tribute 2018 VMAs
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for MTV

The music world has been paying tribute to Aretha Franklin since the Queen of Soul's death last Thursday, and Monday's MTV Video Music Awards was no exception. 

The renowned singer died on Thursday at age 76, following a battle with pancreatic cancer, and on Monday, Madonna took the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City to present the award for Video of the Year and celebrate Franklin's life and legacy.

Madonna recalled the Queen of Soul's influence on her own life and career, recounting how she sang Franklin's hit "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" during one of her first-ever musical theater auditions when she was a struggling, up-and-coming performer.

"That was the beginning of my journey as a singer... and the rest is history," she told the crowd. "None of this would have happened, could have happened, without Our Lady of Soul. She led me to where I am today, and I know she influenced so many people in this room tonight. I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen."

ET spoke with the producers of the VMAs last week, who opened up about the last-minute plans to pay tribute to Franklin during the awards show.

"We're definitely going to honor her," said Jesse Ignjatovic, co-founder of the production company Den of Thieves and executive producer of the VMAs. "Obviously it's Aretha Franklin and we want to get it right and honor her in the best and biggest possible way... It affected everyone here, too. I mean, she's performed on [the Radio City Music Hall] stage many times in her career, in this room. So, it's important."

VMAs executive producer Bruce Gillmer agreed, sharing his own memories of Franklin.

"Aretha, without question, [is] one of the greatest voices in music ever," he says of the late music icon, who appeared several times on VH1's Divas. "VH1 is part of the MTV family. I worked on two shows here in this building with Aretha, very closely with her and her camp. It's pretty emotional."

In addition to the VMAs tribute, celebs have been sharing their memories of Franklin following her death last week, and a source told ET on Thursday that her good friend Clive Davis -- with the blessing of her family -- is planning a tribute concert on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Fans will also be able to pay their respects to Franklin during a public viewing next week at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, ET confirms. The Queen of Soul will lie in state from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 29.

Franklin’s funeral, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 31 at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, will be limited to just family and friends. She will then be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, alongside her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin; brother Cecil Franklin; sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin; and nephew, Thomas Garrett.

See more on the Queen of Soul's life and legacy in the video below.


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