After Coming Under Fire, Madonna Says Last Night's MTV VMAs Speech Was Never Meant To Be An Aretha Franklin Tribute

If you were one of the four people watching the MTV VMAs last night, you saw Madonna present the night’s top honor: Video of the Year.

Before doing so, however, the 60-year-old singer spoke briefly about her connection with Aretha Franklin, who passed away last week. Almost instantaneously, there was outcry online that Madonna’s “tribute” was too self-focused, as the singer hardly mentioned the Queen of Soul.

While onstage, Madonna recalled, among other things, how she’d once performed
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at an audition since she’d forgotten sheet music and “knew [the song] by heart.”

While this would not turn out to be Madonna’s big break, the singer insisted Aretha had still helped her in her career.

“So you’re probably all wondering why I’m telling you this story,” Madonna continued towards the end of her five-minute speech. “There is a connection. Because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our Lady of Soul.”

“She led me to where I am today, and I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, and I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen,” she added. 

Critics thought the tangential speech an undeserving tribute to the Queen of Soul.

Earlier today, Madonna responded to the criticism via Instagram. According to the “Like A Prayer” singer, her speech was never meant to be a tribute at all. Instead, Madonna says she was told to “share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin,” which, if you listen to her speech, is pretty much precisely what she did.

“I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way,” read Madonna’s Instagram caption, in part. “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.”

Hear, hear!

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