Ariana Grande was one of several singers who performed musical tributes to Aretha Franklin at the Queen of Soul’s funeral today, with Grande singing the classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” This is about as nerve-wracking an assignment as one could imagine for any singer, in part because Franklin’s astonishing Kennedy Center rendition of the song—the defining performance of her late-period career—is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Grande sang it well, without much showy melisma, wisely avoiding any attempts to either modernize “Natural Woman” or to imitate Aretha’s inimitable style. You can watch it below.
This isn’t the first time Grande has performed the song: she also sang “Natural Woman” backed by the Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, shortly after Franklin’s death. In a Fallon interview, Grande said she’d met Franklin “a few times.” “We sang at the White House, and she was so sweet, she was so cute. I was like, ‘How are you a real person?’ It’s an honor to have met her, and we’re gonna celebrate her. She called me one time. It was one time only. And she goes, ‘Hi, it’s Aretha.’ And I was like, ‘Franklin?'”
Other performers and speakers at Franklin’s funeral include Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill, Fantasia, Chaka Khan, Martha Reeves, Jesse Jackson, and Isaiah Thomas.