Aretha Franklin was honoured with a star-studded gospel tribute at the American Music Awards
The Queen of Soul died of cancer aged 76 in August and a number of singers, including Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans took to the stage at the annual ceremony on Tuesday (09.10.18) to perform in her honour
11 October 2018
The event's host, Tracee Ellis Ross, gave an emotional introduction to the segment, hailing Aretha as "our friend, our sister, our queen" before a video montage of the 'Say a Little Prayer' hitmaker played, which included footage of her performing at the third-ever AMAs and singing for former President Barack Obama.
© 2018 Bang Showbiz, NZCity
Gladys then opened the musical tribute with a rendition of 'Amazing Grace', which led into performances of songs including 'Climbing Higher Mountains', 'Mary, Don't You Weep', 'How I Got Over', and other gospel songs.
Aretha's sons, Jordan Franklin and Kecalf Cunningham, and her granddaughter Victorie Franklin were in attendance for the tribute and had admitted ahead of the ceremony that they were "excited" to see what was in store.
Speaking on the red carpet at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater, Jordan told 'Entertainment Tonight': "I'm excited, I didn't get a chance to check out too many of them. "Just from all the other performances and tributes, it's always something special. So I'm definitely excited."
Kecalf added: "[I feel] honored."
And the family felt it was a fitting tribute to the soul legend.
Jordan explained: "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.
"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."
And ahead of the ceremony, AMA producers Mark Bracco and Baz Halpin had vowed the tribute would be "joyful".
Baz said: "This is huge. I mean, obviously a terrible loss... not only the musical world, but the world in general.
"We have an incredible Aretha tribute featuring just a host of gospel stars. I think it's something that everybody will want to see.
"It's a celebration for sure."
Mark added: "We really wanted to pay tribute to her gospel roots... first of all with Gladys Knight, who's a legend, and then gathering some of the biggest legends of gospel.
"That's really what's going to be a celebration of life... It's not going to be maudlin, it's going to be joyful."