The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony kicked off with some major star power when Taylor Swift took to the stage and sang the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” — a song that was co-written by inductee Carole King.
King was visibly moved following Swift’s performance, wiping away tears, and the emotion just continued to pour out with an incredible video package that featured comments from a diverse group of musicians and fans from Olivia Rodrigo to Tom Hanks to Alicia Keys. However, Elton John described King best: “She is the quintessential singer-songwriter. Her songs are so simple yet so beautiful.”
Swift would return to the stage to properly induct King. She mentioned how her parents were massive fans of King and recalled a story her dad told her when he was younger and dating someone, and this woman asked him if there were any songs that reminded him of her.
“He responded with his favorite song: ‘It’s Too Late,'” said Swift, with the crowd at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse erupting with laughter at the fact that he named a devastating breakup song. (Obviously, that relationship didn’t last too long after that awkward moment, Swift noted.)
When it was time to take the stage, King thanked Swift first and said, in a nod from one singer-songwriter to another, “Thank you for carrying the torch forward.”
King made sure to thank her late ex-husband/songwriting partner Gerry Goffin and shouted out Aretha Franklin saying, “People tell me female singer-songwriters stand on my shoulders, but they also stand on the shoulders of the first woman to be inducted [into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame], may she rest in power, Miss Aretha Franklin.”
King then introduced Jennifer Hudson, star of the Franklin biopic Respect, who appeared on stage at a piano and performed “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” which caused the crowd to erupt. King would then sit down at the piano and perform “You’ve Got a Friend.” King then instructed the crowd to sing along to the final chorus in an early chill-inducing moment that led to a standing ovation.