The Queen of Soul, who died in August at age 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, was honored by several singers including Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans at the big show on Tuesday night.
The tribute kicked with a retrospective of Franklin’s career, including footage of her performing at the third-ever AMAs, after an emotional tribute from host Tracee Ellis Ross to “our friend, our sister, our queen.” Then Knight, 74, opened the tribute with a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which led into performances of “Climbing Higher Mountains,” ” Mary, Don’t You Weep,” “How I Got Over,” and more.
ET’s Keltie Knight spoke with Franklin’s sons, Jordan Franklin and Kecalf Cunningham and granddaughter, Victorie Franklin, on the red carpet ahead of the awards show, where they opened up about their excitement over the tribute.
“I’m excited, I didn’t get a chance to check out too many of them,” Jordan said of the performers. “Just from all the other performances and tributes, it’s always something special. So I’m definitely excited.”
“The last time we were here, she did a show here. [It was] maybe a couple years ago, and it was amazing. This exact venue,” Jordan added of the Microsoft Theater. “I think she’d be happy to be back and she’d appreciate all the love. She’s here, we’re here so she’s here.”
Bracco concurred, saying that the performance would “start out with a lot of tears and end up with a lot of joy.”
“[The tribute is] about the people who were close to her and the music that she loved, and really paying tribute to that,” Halpin said.