In 1998, twenty-two minutes after she was asked to cover for her ailing friend, Luciano Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin walked on stage at the Grammy Awards to perform the legendary aria “Nessun Dorma.” With little time to prepare Franklin performed the aria as is. In Pavarotti’s key. No one knew what to expect. No one knew what he or she was about to witness.
That performance begets one of the most extraordinary musical moments in awards show history, in a canon as mammoth. It brought the audience to a thunderous ovation and remains, in my opinion, the greatest performance in the history of the Grammy Awards.
Happy 75th Birthday to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. The Queen of everything.