Grande, who was only scheduled to do a comedy skit on the show, sang her rendition of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, accompanied by The Roots.
The Sweetener singer sat down with Jimmy Fallon after the performance and recalled memories of meeting Franklin while performing at the White House.
Grande also shared memories of a “one-time” phone call she received from Franklin about a family member wanting to get into the music business and sent the No Tears Left to Cry singer some samples.
“She goes, ‘Hi, it’s Aretha,’” Grande remembered. “I was like, ‘Franklin?’”
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’d be honoured to listen. Thank you for thinking of me. Text me the MP3 or something,’” Grande said. “And she was like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that, so I’m gonna send it to you.’ And four months later I got a package with a CD.’”
WATCH BELOW: The latest on Aretha Franklin
Nicki Minaj kicked off her third episode of Beats 1’s Queen Radio on Thursday by honouring Franklin.
“It’s no secret she’s an icon — an icon of all icons,” Minaj said. “I don’t know anyone who she hasn’t inspired. It seems strange to wake up and hear she passed, even though she lived a long and fulfilled life. But still, we’ve lost one of our icons. Someone we’ve all been inspired by.”
Minaj continued: “I remember being in school learning Respect, and that felt like a mini national anthem for us. It’s so weird how everyone grew up with that song. What I love about the song is not just saying ‘give me respect,’ it’s demanding respect. I like strong and iconic women. She was unapologetically the Queen.”
Alicia Keys stopped by Minaj’s show to deliver a performance of Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
WATCH BELOW: Alicia Keys performs ‘Natural Woman’ in honour of Aretha Franklin
“The world is poorer for her not being here,” Colbert said. “There is no Queen of Soul right now, and she can never be replaced.”
He remembered seeing Franklin perform live in 2015 at the Kennedy Center when she sang (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
“As she started,” Colbert said, “I said to one of the stagehands next to me, ‘I wish I could have seen her when she was younger, when she was in full voice.’”
WATCH BELOW: Stephen Colbert pays tribute to Aretha Franklin
“Boy, am I stupid,” Colbert said and then pulled up the video from that evening at the Kennedy Center and let it play.
Fans of Franklin came together at New York City’s landmark Apollo Theatre and on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday to pay their respects to the Queen of Soul, singing along to her hits and sharing memories of her remarkable career.
WATCH BELOW: Fans dance to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Rock Steady’ outside Apollo Theatre
Billy Mitchell, the Apollo’s historian, said the landmark theatre would likely hold a tribute to one of its most beloved performers.
“We’re sad but we’re very grateful to have had someone like Aretha Franklin in our lifetime,” said Mitchell, known as “Mr. Apollo.”
WATCH BELOW: Aretha Franklin dead: Apollo Theatre honours Queen of Soul
Inducted to the Apollo’s Walk of Fame in 2010, Franklin performed there more than a dozen times, most recently in 2010. Her June 1971 “homecoming” show “drove fans to near-hysteria,” according to the theatre.
“Aretha’s legacy should be excellence in music,” Mitchell said. “There’s a reason why she’s queen. You don’t get to get that title by being mediocre.”
Fans gathered at Franklin’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, leaving flowers and candles and sharing tributes to the entertainer.
WATCH BELOW: People lay flowers at Aretha Franklin’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star
“Every time one of her songs comes on, everyone sings along, everyone knows the lyrics and … her songs give you that power, like that confidence to step out into the world and to feel, as a woman and as a black woman, like, that you are beautiful and that you can do it,” said Chelsea Monroe, 29.
Crystal Carpenter, 56, said she grew up listening to Franklin in the late 60s and early 70s.
“And my mom bought this album back in ‘71 and now I have it,” Carpenter said, holding a copy of Franklin’s Amazing Grace, which was recorded live in the Watts neighbourhood of Los Angeles.
“I love her gospel, secular, everything,” Carpenter said. “She was the queen.”
WATCH BELOW: Tribute grows at Aretha Franklin’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Many other stars paid their respects to the late Franklin.
Franklin passed away on Aug. 16. She was 76 years old.
Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.
The family added: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
The statement continued: “We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
—With files from ReutersFollow @KatieScottNews
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