LOS ANGELES— Madonna on Tuesday hit back at critics of her speech about the late Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) show, saying she had been asked only to share an anecdote about the late Queen of Soul.
The “Rebel Heart” singer sparked a backlash with a 10-minute speech focused mostly on her own early career at Monday’s live show, which organizers had said would pay honor and tribute to Franklin four days after her death at age 76.
“I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin!” Madonna said in an Instagram posting on Tuesday.
“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.”
The only other mention of Franklin during the almost three-hour show from New York was a brief video clip of her singing early in her career, and the playing of “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” over the closing credits.
MTV did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Madonna was criticized for self-indulgence when she recalled her early days as an aspiring singer and dancer, including one audition where she performed an a cappella version of Franklin’s hit song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
She made no comment about Franklin’s own career.
“Whoever at the #VMAs let Madonna get on stage and give a tribute to @ArethaFranklin or whatever that was really should be out of a job right about…now,” tweeted Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant Editing by Bill Trott)