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Franklin tribute at American Music Awards

The 2018 American Music Awards will pay tribute to late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin with a little help from her friends.

Soul and gospel legends Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans will lead the special performance when the show takes place on Oct. 9, Dick Clark Productions and ABC announced Thursday.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of this moving musical tribute to honor our late queen and sister, Aretha,” Knight said in a statement. “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.”

The tribute will honor Franklin’s gospel roots and iconic gospel album, “Amazing Grace.” Former “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” band leader Rickey Minor will serve as the musical director.

Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and executor of her estate, thanked show producers for honoring the music titan during the broadcast.

“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.

In addition to her 18 Grammy Awards, Franklin, who died in August at 76, accumulated six American Music Awards between 1976 and 1983. She hosted the show in 1976 and performed on the AMAs in 1983 and 1986.

The show will include a bevy of other live performances. The previously announced musical acts include Mariah Carey; Benny Blanco with Halsey and Khalid; Cardi B with Bad Bunny and J Balvin; and Post Malone with Ty Dolla $ign and Carrie Underwood.

Hip-hop stars Cardi B and Drake lead the nominations with eight nods each, and the winners are still being voted on by fans.

“black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross will host the ceremony, which will air on ABC.


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