Aretha Franklin's musical legacy continues to live on through her granddaughter Grace Franklin. The 15-year-old Detroit native paid homage to the late Queen of Soul, who passed away in 2018, in the best way during her audition on "American Idol." In the show's fifth season premiere on ABC, Franklin surprised judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan when she revealed her family history, with a giddy Richie saying, "Stop right there. That is your grandma!" Franklin started her performance singing Lauryn Hill's "Killing Me Softly" before going into a soulful rendition of the her grandmother's classic hit "Ain't No Way."
"I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her."
During her audition, Franklin spoke on her close relationship with her grandmother and how they'd travel together often. She also addressed the obvious expectations people have of her. "I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her," she says in a voiceover. "But I'm my own artist, and I have my own voice."
Even though two of the judges voted "no" on Franklin's audition, Richie offered the young singer some kind words of encouragement to help get her singing skills to match her famous family lineage. "Grace Franklin, I love you, and I think the best thing for you in life is to take a shot at going backwards," he said. "Go back and get a running start and come at this again."
Perry tried to urge her fellow judges to reconsider sending Franklin home, saying, "Give her a chance. I am sure Aretha wasn't Aretha when she walked in the room, but somebody said, 'Yes, I want to work with you. I want to develop you. You got something.'" Franklin didn't get a ticket to Hollywood, but Richie told her he was optimistic about her future, saying "Come back and see us." Watch Franklin's "American Idol" audition above.