What They Were Thinking During Aretha Franklin’s Kennedy Center Performance

One year ago today, Aretha Franklin blew our minds at the Kennedy Center Honors. Did you miss it? It was one of those life-changing moments where time stopped and everyone — including President Obama who famously shed a tear — felt really, really good for four minutes. CBS’s YouTube clip of the performance was viewed millions of times before they took it down, but if you feel like you need to be uplifted today, you can still find it here.

This rendition of You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman — which The Queen of Soul sang because the song’s writer, Carole King, was being honored — is officially legend, and now we are left with the question of what made it so special. Let’s get inside the the heads of those who were lucky enough to be present. What was going through fellow honoree George Lucas’ mind, for example? How about Cecily Tyson? In order to make sense of something so transcendental, let’s answer the question: What was everyone thinking?

George Lucas: Earlier in the evening, I’d tried to bring the President to tears by telling him what happens to Luke Skywalker in Episode VIII. For a moment I thought I’d succeeded but it just turned out to be an eyelash stuck in his sclera. He was completely unmoved which I thought meant he was either emotionally shutdown or not a fan of Star Wars so surely it must have been the former. Then, Aretha started singing. She’s a Jedi. No doubt about that.

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