Aretha Franklin performed at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors during the ceremony’s tribute to Carole King, who co-wrote one of Franklin’s signature songs, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Franklin performed that 1967 single at the Kennedy Center Honors, which aired Tuesday night following its December 6th ceremony in Washington D.C., making a rare appearance at the piano to deliver a rendition that moved many – including President Barack Obama – to tears.
Franklin, herself a 1994 Kennedy Center honoree, wrapped up an all-star tribute that featured songs penned both by King solo and with her late husband Gerry Goffin: Sara Bareilles sang “You’ve Got a Friend,” the Tapestry track that turned into a James Taylor hit single; Taylor himself played “Up on the Roof” during the King tribute. Janelle Monae covered both “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (popularized by the Shirelles) and “One Fine Day” (The Chiffons).
“How amazing to be named a Kennedy Center honoree among such esteemed company,” King said in a statement in July when the Kennedy Center honorees were announced. “I’m humbled and grateful to accept. I’ve been very lucky to able to do the work I love for so many years. And it’s even more rewarding to know that what I do has touched the lives of so many people.” Joining King in 2015 were Star Wars creator George Lucas, actresses Rita Moreno and Cicely Tyson and classical conductor Seiji Ozawa.
The Eagles were also originally tabbed for this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, but Glenn Frey’s intestinal surgery forced the group to postpone the fete until 2016.