Madonna has said she meant no d-i-s-r-e-s-p-e-c-t to the late Aretha Franklin after she took to the MTV VMAs stage to deliver a tribute to Franklin that was criticised for predominantly focusing on her own career.
VMAs organisers said Madonna would be paying tribute to the Queen of Soul Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer last Friday at age 76, before presenting the award for Video of the Year.
Madonna began, “Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life.”
She went on then recalled her own early days as an aspiring singer and dancer, including one audition where she performed an a cappella version of Franklin’s hit song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”.
“I left Detroit when I was 18. Thirty-five dollars in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer. After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theatre,” she explained.
“I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer but I went for it. I got cut and rejected from every audition – not tall enough, not blend-in enough, not 12-octave range enough, not pretty enough. Not enough.
“None of this would have happened without our Lady of Soul. She led me to where I am today and I know she influenced so many people.
“I want to thank you Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen.”
Madonna later wrote on her Instagram that she never intended for the speech to be a tribute.
“I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin!” she wrote.
“I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in two minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment.
“Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge.”
Aretha Franklin’s Tribute at the #VMAs:
1. Madonna talks about herself, at length, with Aretha as a footnote.
2. “Respect” is played at the very end.
3. A photo of Aretha with “1942-2018.”
Bro, what? Disrespectful.
— Nia Langley✨ (@theNiaLangley) August 21, 2018
— Alicia Garza (@aliciagarza) August 21, 2018
Me: It’s weird that #Madonna is doing a tribute to Aretha Franklin, but what’s the worst that could happen?
— Brittany Stephanis (@bmstephanis) August 21, 2018
I hope the vmas plan to issue a public apology for allowing Madonna to disrespect Aretha Franklin’s legacy like that #VMAs
— Kia Kia (@kiiajai) August 21, 2018
Im with the Winner!! The beautiful @camila_cabello ! So proud of her! 🌈💕🎉. And just to clarify: I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 🙏🏼. I Love Camilla! Congrats! I LOVE my dress! AND. I love-L O V E!! ♥️ and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that. #vmas #postivevibes