Aretha Franklin wasn’t an honoree at the 38th annual Kennedy Center Honors but she stole the show anyway. Performing her 1967 single (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman co-written by Carole King, the 73-year-old Queen of Soul’s passionate performance moved both Carole King and President Barack Obama literally to tears.
The video shows Franklin in classic form — and King simply transfixed watching her. After beginning the performance of the single at the piano, a rarity for the singer, Franklin stood up and belted out the rest of the song with the vocal power that brought her to fame in the first place.
Franklin’s performance finished off a medley of songs celebrating Carole King, who was one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Although a celebrated singer/songwriter in her own right, King (sometimes with her late husband Gerry Goffin) is best known as a songwriter for other musicians. In that spirit, the medley featured You’ve Got a Friend (written for James Taylor), Up on the Roof (The Drifters), Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles), and One Fine Day (The Chiffons).
King was honored at the ceremony alongside George Lucas, actresses Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson, and classical conductor Seiji Ozawa. Although the event was held on December 6, CBS aired it last night. The Eagles were also supposed to receive the honors this year but that was postponed until 2016 because of Glenn Frey’s intestinal surgery.
“I’m humbled and grateful to accept,” said King in a statement in July (via Rolling Stone), upon hearing she was one of this year’s honorees. “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.”