The 'Like A Prayer' hitmaker paid tribute to the late music icon - who passed away last week at the age of 76 - whilst on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in New York on Monday (20.08.18), where she presented the award for Video of the Year, which she handed to Camila Cabello.
She said: ''Aretha Franklin changed my life. When I was 18, $35 in my pocket, my dream was to make it as a professional dancer. After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theatre. I had no training or dreams of becoming a singer but I went for it. I got cut and rejected from every audition. And then one day, a French disco sensation was looking for backing singers and dancers for his world tour and I thought, why not?
''So I showed up to the audition and two very large French record producers sat in the empty room, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well, but then they asked me if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked, I had to think fast. Fortunately, one of my favourite albums was 'Lady Soul' by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out 'You make me feel ... You make me feel like a natural woman.'
''I could see that they did not take me seriously. And why would they? Some skinny a** white girl is gonna come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived?''
Madonna, 60, then added that she finally got a call back from the producers who set her on the path to stardom, and said Aretha ''led her'' to where she is today.
She concluded: ''Finally the phone rang and it was one of the producers. And they said 'We don't think you are right for this job. We think you have great potential. You are rough at the edges but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star.'
''So, you're probably all wondering why I'm telling you this story. None of this would have happened, could have happened, without our Lady of Soul. She led me to were I am today, and I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, and in this room tonight. I want to thank you Aretha, for empowering us.''