“She called me on stage here that night,” he told Rolling Stone of his good friend who died last Thursday from pancreatic cancer. “I wanted to be here because many on that stage wouldn’t have been on that stage had it not been for someone like Aretha who opened that door. It’s a special night for me.”
Sharpton is on hand to introduce a tribute performance to Franklin at the show tonight and is looking forward to celebrating her life further. “She brought us all together in remembering her and celebrating her. She never shamed us. She never brought disgrace to the industry or the world. Tonight’s a great night for VMAs and a great night to remember the Queen.”
Many in the VMA room alone had posted personal tributes to the iconic vocalist in the days that followed her death. Ariana Grande, who is performing her single “God Is a Woman” at the show, paid vocal homage to Franklin on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where she covered the Carole King-penned “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” with the Roots.
Young, rising emo rapper Juice WRLD also shared with Rolling Stone his fondness for Franklin. “My mom and [family] felt it more than I did, but I most definitely felt it,” he says on the carpet. “I appreciated the music. If you lose somebody who you appreciate, of course you’re going to feel some type of way.”
Sharpton noted on the pink carpet that he will be part of the memorial services in Detroit where she grew up, continued to live and will now be laid to rest. He has many great memories of Franklin but he always loved that after the shows he would go her dressing room and find soul food and camaraderie with her. “I won’t be going to the dressing room tonight, but I’ll be sitting there remembering the Queen.”