Aretha Franklin’s granddaughter Grace auditions for American Idol – but did she get through?

2 March 2022, 11:17

By Mayer Nissim

Grace Franklin has a famous grandmother, but she's adamant that she's her own artist.

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For an artist, having some famous family can be a double-edged sword.

You may be blessed with a combination of talented genes and top-level contacts, but it can also be hard to get out of the shadow of some well-known people with the same surname.

That was part of the challenge faced by Grace Franklin – granddaughter of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin – when she auditioned for TV talent show American Idol at the weekend (February 27).

"Hi, I'm Grace, I'm 15 and I'm from Detroit, Michigan" she told the panel of Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

Asked by Lionel about her journey to the show, she didn't hide from her history, saying: "My grandma is Aretha Franklin."

Aretha Franklin's granddaughters Victory and Grace Franklin
Aretha Franklin's granddaughters Victory and Grace Franklin. Picture: Alamy

"I was really close to my grandma, I got to see her all the time – I used to travel with her a lot," Grace said in her background video tape.

"I don't think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide because to me she was always just grandma.

"I fell like people expect me to sing exactly like her, but I'm my own artist and I have my own voice."

Grace Franklin on American Idol
Grace Franklin on American Idol. Picture: Getty

Grace put herself out there with a performance of Lauryn Hill's version of Roberta Flack's classic 'Killing Me Softly'.

Lionel acknowledged grace's nerves, while Luke said it was "sleepy and subdued". Katy Perry agreed it was "soft" and asked if she had anything else prepared.

Grace suggested 'Ain't No Way', which granny Aretha recorded for her 1968 album Lady Soul (and was written by Grace's great aunt Carolyn Franklin, for good measure).

Katy was much more impressed, saying: "I loved your rendition of your grandma's song."

But while Luke praised Grace's runs, he still had reservations. Billing himself as "Uncle Richie" Lionel shared Luke's concerns.

"You're grandmother talking to me, her line was 'If you're not ready for me, don't come near me'," Lionel said.

"Now, you're 15. You've got the family lineage, okay. What we need to put now is time and some work in to get it up to par."

Luke added: "The age and the voice have got to all come together and on the same path."

When it came to the voting at the end of the audition, Katy Perry was a firm yes.

"Grace, I think you have stardust and sparkle all over you," she said.

"You are beautiful and if you'll trust us and if you'll listen to us and you'll put in the work, i think we can find that next level with you."

But Luke wasn't convinced. "For right now, I'm a no" he said.

And sadly with the casting vote, Uncle Richie agreed. "Grace Franklin, I love you," he said.

"I think the best thing for you in life is to take a shot at going backwards Go back and get a running start and come at this again."

Katy Perry was apoplectic, glaring at Richie.

Aretha Franklin performs in 2011
Aretha Franklin performs in 2011. Picture: Alamy

"Listen she's got stardust, give her a shot, give her a chance," she said.

"I'm sure Aretha wasn't Aretha when she walked into the room, but somebody said, 'Yes, I want to work with you, I want to develop you, you've got something'. She's got stardust on her."

Lionel got to his feet and implored Grace to trust him and "put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you" to become amazing.

Meanwhile, Perry stomped off set, joking that she had quit the show and was going to the bar.