BET honoree singer Aretha Franklin performs onstage at BET Honors 2014 at Warner Theatre in Washington February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

THE QUEEN of soul sang her heart out in honour of Nelson Mandela.

Aretha Franklin took to the stage at the annual BET Honors in Washington at the weekend in a shimmering cream and silver dress and sparkly stilettos.

As a luminous picture of Mandela’s face lit up the stage behind her, Franklin paid tribute to the man she once likened to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King jr.

Madiba’s daughter Zindzi and grandchildren Mbuso and Bambatha, who attended the awards ceremony held at the Warner Theatre in Washington, rubbed shoulders with celebrities such as Joe Morton, Ice Cube and Janelle Monae.

Franklin was also honoured that night as a distinguished African-American who has reached great heights in music.

The Motown diva met Madiba in June 1990 when he visited Detroit, a few months after his release from his 27-year prison stay.

Then, Franklin shared the stage with another legend, Stevie Wonder, and Ortheia Barnes at the Tiger Stadium, where they paid tribute to the statesman.

Franklin also performed at a tribute concert honouring Mandela in 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York alongside Josh Groban, Wyclef Jean and Queen Latifah.

When she found out about Mandela’s passing, she posted on her Facebook page: “He was a man on a mission. Such a sad day. The passing of such a great and gracious man, one of the great teachers who led by example, a humanitarian at its very best. I loved the little dance he did in celebration of various victories and his million-dollar smile.”

BET also honoured Motown Records founder and creator of Motown The Musical, Berry Gordy, and rapper, actor and producer Ice Cube, among others.

Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey and Monae were among those who performed at the ceremony. - The Star

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