"'The Queen of Soul' and the 'Goddess of Gospel,' Aretha, you are a member of the American Music Awards family and you have our love and respect forever," host Tracee Ellis Ross said before introducing a video montage, chronicling Aretha's remarkable career
The "Empress of Soul", Gladys Knight, then took the stage with a powerful tribute to the queen by taking on one of Aretha's most iconic performances, "Amazing Grace."
She was then joined by gospel luminaries Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans for a medley of some of Aretha's greatest gospel hits. While most fans know her for her pop and soul hits like "Respect," "Freedom," "Think," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," she never stepped fully away from her gospel roots.
After Knight's take on "Amazing Grace," McClurkin, Winans, Ledisi, and Mary took the audience through some of Aretha's most effective and powerful gospel records, including "Climbing Higher Mountains", "Mary Don't You Weep," "How I Got Over," and "Old Landmark."
The tribute was so touching and powerful, it was like they took the audience to church. Everyone was on their feet, and even Post Malone looked like he was tearing up. It was a beautiful way to honor someone who's meant so much to the music industry, by celebrating the music she's left behind for all of us.