(Photo: Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin brought then-President Barack Obama to tears with a stunning performance of the Carole King ballad "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.
A guest performer at a night dedicated to Star Wars creator George Lucas, Boston Symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa, and King, Franklin stole the show with her soaring vocals and dynamic stage presence.
The singer strolled onstage to rapturous applause, blowing a kiss to King before sitting at a piano and effortlessly playing the cascading pickup to the song that shot the performer to superstardom. As the camera pans to the First Couple, the President can be seen wiping away tears before Franklin has even finished the first verse.
Franklin's one-of-kind skillset was on full display as she adlibbed infectious controlled melismas with unmatched vocal mastery. Donned in signature fur and a sleeveless gown, the then-73-year-old icon brought the rest of the crowd, including the Obamas, to their feet with her shoulder-bearing drop of the coat - capping an effortless climax to what was already a legendary performance.
Aretha Franklin passed away Thursday (Aug. 16) at the age of 76.
"America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring," the Obamas said in a joint statement. "Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience."