*When Aretha Franklin hit the stage for International Jazz Day at the White House on April 30, she didn’t honor the history of the pioneering genre, she paid tribute to Prince, with a cover of his classic single, “Purple Rain.”
“I don’t need to tell this crowd the story of jazz, from its humble origins as the music of the black working class, largely invisible to the mainstream. It went on to become America’s most significant artistic contribution to the world,” President Obama said during his opening remarks.
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Vibe notes that following his speech, jazz legends like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, and singers Sting and Esperanza Spalding, took the stage for historic performances. Aretha began her set with a performance of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” which she also covered earlier in her career with Donny Hathaway and Ray Charles.
Herbie Hancock led the Prince tribute, and when Aretha took the stage, she told crowd: “God sent down a rainbow to Prince’s house so he could walk up to heaven.”
“He was definitely an original and a one-of-a-kind. There was truly only one Prince,” Franklin told MSNBC in an interview following the shocking news of Prince’s death. “He put his stamp [on his sound]. Prince is gone but his music lives on. There was a mystique about him that made you want to know a little more about him. Kind of like Stevie [Wonder], he was one of those artists that loved to go into and stay in the studio,” she continued.
Franklin’s “Purple Rain” cover has been one of the many celebrity honors following the late icon’s death. Check out the soul legend in the clip below.