Singer Gladys Knight is set to lead a tribute for late singer Aretha Franklin at the American Music Awards, reported Rolling Stone. She will be joined by Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans, and musical director Rickey Minor during the event set to air live October 9 on ABC.
Dick Clark Productions confirmed that Knight will be giving the tribute, centered around Franklin’s 1972 album Amazing Grace and her gospel roots.
Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, commented on the tribute.
“When I heard some of the initial ideas for the tribute, I knew without a doubt that this tribute will go down as one of the best in American music.”
Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer last month at the age of 76, won six AMA’s and hosted the ceremonies in 1976 and 1983. Since her death, many artists have given tributes, including Mavis Staples, Smokey Robinson, Chris Stapleton, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey.
Knight also performed at Franklin’s funeral held in her home city of Detroit, Michigan, and sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Knight spoke to local Detroit radio station WDIV, per Hollywood Reporter, about the passing of her friend.
“We lost our queen. And she’s my sister and she’s family. I didn’t want her to suffer and it’s not our business. It’s the Lord’s business. You know, he calls us when we’re supposed to come home and she has done more than her share of using that gift that she was blessed with and I’m just glad to be here to honor her at this time.”
At the funeral, the singer also sparked concern that she had pancreatic cancer as well after commenting that she and the Queen of Soul had “the same disease.”
However, she later cleared up the confusion in a statement, explaining that she was referring to cancer as the same disease and not specifically pancreatic cancer. Knight was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.
“Due to early detection, I am cancer-free and grateful for that. It is unfortunate that on a day we should be celebrating Aretha’s life and massive contribution to our world, a reporter who did not relay accurate information has missed the message. I send my love to the entire Franklin family and my gratitude to them for sharing such an extraordinary person with us.”
Label executive Clive Davis, who played a large role in Franklin’s career, is reportedly taking the charge on an all-star tribute concert set to take place on November 14 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, writes Rolling Stone. The lineup has yet to be announced but the title of the concert is rumored to be “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin.”
After Franklin’s passing, Davis, who signed her to his Arista Records in 1980, issued a statement.
“I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world. Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness.”