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Gospel legends pay tribute to Aretha Franklin at AMAs

By Daniel Uria
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin through the years
Aretha Franklin performs during Barack Obama's presidential inauguration ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The American Music Awards paid tribute to the legacy of the late Aretha Franklin with a video montage and performances by various gospel artists.

The tribute began with a video retrospective on Franklin's life and career, noting her accomplishments, including becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as her historic performances and commitment to her gospel roots.

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Gladys Knight then took the stage to perform a rendition of "Amazing Grace," followed by Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans, Ledisi and Mary Mary, who performed a medley of Franklin's songs.

A chorus and dancers took the stage and the crowd clapped and sang along to the gospel songs as images of Franklin were displayed on a screen in the background.

Prior to the show Franklin's niece and executor of the Aretha Franklin estate, Sabrina Owens, thanked the AMAs for honoring Franklin during the broadcast.

"Throughout its 46-year history, the American Music Awards has continued to stand by the music and honor the best in talent and the greatest in popular music culture. When I heard some of the initial ideas for the tribute, I knew without a doubt that this tribute will go down as one of the best in American music," Owens said.

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Knight said that it was an blessing to be a part of the tribute.

"She was an icon and visionary, radiated light and love through all of her life's work, and touched all of us through her incredible gift of music," she said.

Franklin died in August at the age of 76 after a career that included three AMAs, 20 Grammy Awards, including the Legend Award in 1991, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2008.

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