Three nights after the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer, country singer Eric Church played a song in her honor in Calgary, Alberta during Canada’s Country Thunder music festival on Sunday night. Walking onto the stage playing his acoustic guitar, Church sang one of the 18-time Grammy winner’s iconic hits, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Though the crowd was pumped to see Church, he wasn’t afraid to tone down the mood, consider his feminine side, and reach a reflective state to remember the incredible talent of Aretha Franklin. After playing part of the soulful track, Church shifted gears into a hit of his own, “Smoke a Little Smoke” from his 2009 record, Carolina, slowly pulling the crowd from the mesmerizing cover.
After Franklin’s death, several members of the country music community have dedicated a song in her honor during their tour stops. Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert both sang “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” at their respective shows. Franklin’s influence on Stapleton was particularly evident as he recognized her as the “greatest singer that ever lived…and ever will live.”
Riding the same wavelength as Church, Maren Morris also played “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
“Natural Woman.” This song is written on the souls of millions, something I realized in the short time we had at sound check the other day to work it up in Aretha’s honor. It was effortless; it’s in our bones, ready to emerge at a moment’s notice. Every nuance of Aretha’s version is imprinted. It lives in us the way great music does. Immortal. Hope you hear all these souls lifting their voices to you in heaven Aretha, and know that your spirit is in our bones here on earth. @marenmorris @ericjmontgomerymusic @christianpaschall @bennettdeanlewis #marenmorris #naturalwoman #flickerworldtour
Morris’ bass player, Annie Clements, wrote on Instagram that it felt “effortless” for the band to pick up the song on short notice since it’s so ingrained in them as a perfect piece of music. Franklin released “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” as a single in 1967 after it was written for her by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The song quickly became a favorite for Franklin and her fans.