Grande, 25, performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Queen of Soul’s funeral at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.
Grande, clad in a black dress and wearing her trademark high-pony, was ushered over to the lectern by Bishop Charles H. Ellis III — who is co-officiating the ceremony with Rev. Robert Smith Jr. — for some kind words. “She’s an icon herself!” the Bishop said of Grande, after joking that he first assumed her name was a new addition to Taco Bell’s menu.
Before leaving the stage, Grande uttered a heartfelt “We love you, Aretha!” into the microphone.
Gwendolyn Quinn, a Franklin family spokeswoman, previously told the Free Press of Grande, “Aretha was fond of her.”
She noted that Franklin’s family appreciated Grande’s tribute to Franklin, who died on Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer at age 76, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this month, where she broke down while performing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
“I met her a few times. We sang at the White House, and she was so sweet, and she was so cute,” Grande told Fallon. “I was like, ‘How are you a real person?’ It’s an honor to have met her, and we’re gonna celebrate her.”
Grande continued, “She called me one time. It was one time only. She called me. She goes, ‘Hi, it’s Aretha.’ And I was like, ‘Franklin?’”
As Grande’s fans speculated whether or not Franklin’s death would overshadow Grande’s release of her new album Sweetener, the young pop star shared two Instagram posts in honor of Franklin. “Forever,” she wrote alongside a video of Franklin singing “I Say a Little Prayer.”