I have always enjoyed the Kennedy Center Honors show. Every once in a while there is a performance that is nothing less than stunning. Three years ago it was Ann and Nancy Wilson performing Stairway to Heaven as a tribute to Led Zeppelin at the ceremony.
Last night Aretha Franklin’s tribute to Honoree Carol King was broadcast, and she brought down the house. The audience didn’t wait till the end of the performance. Aretha had them standing in the middle of the song. I was standing and cheering in my den along with them and let out a whoop at the end.
Earlier this month, Aretha Franklin graced the Kennedy Center Honors stage to pay tribute to Carole King, one of six honorees this year. Aretha received that same honor more than two decades ago, but if you think she deserved it then, hoo boy, just look at her now: The Queen of Soul arrived to slay, casually strolling across the stage in her floor-length fur coat like it was her living room, tossing her sparkling clutch on the piano and taking her seat at the keys — a rare sight these days. Already, King’s mouth is agape. Barely a minute into “Natural Woman,” which King co-wrote,President Obama’s wiping away tears. The whole room (particularly King, who can’t help but stan out) is mesmerized, but just wait. The moment that makes this one of Aretha’s best and most diva-affirming performances this decade comes toward the end, when she rises from the piano, sings to the heavens, and removes her fur coat and tosses it to the floor like a boss, next to all our jaws. This is what Beyoncé meant by flawless, y’all.