*Sunday night at the 2011 Grammy Awards Aretha Franklin was feted as the “Queen of Hearts” and “Queen of the Grammys” in a 15-minute tribute that opened the show.
Franklin, who was hospitalized last year and has canceled concerts and personal appearances through May, made a surprise video appearance at the ceremony.
Watch below as LL Cool J reminds the audience of Franklin’s 18 Grammys. Then, singers Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride and others perform a rousing medley of some of the music legend’s greatest hits.
The musical tribute opened with “Natural Woman,” before moving into solos of “Respect” by Hudson, “Think” by Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine and “Sprit in the Dark” by Yolanda Adams.
At the end of the tribute, an appreciative, but feisty Franklin, 68, appeared via video – in a white strapless gown – to make clear she had no intention of leaving the music scene anytime soon.
“I wish that I could have been with you tonight, but since I couldn’t — next year, OK?” she said.
In her brief Grammy video appearance, Franklin looked healthy, though she’s lost a significant amount of weight since her surgery for an undisclosed ailment. She was also photographed Friday at a basketball game in Detroit.