She is dubbed the undisputed “Queen of Soul;” her star has reached its zenith and has remained through decades of musical trends and numerous wanna-be's.
On Wednesday, July 25, Aretha Franklin and company were at the Nokia Theater for a one-night concert. Attendees braved rush-hour traffic to fill the venue in
downtown Los Angeles adjacent to StaplesCenter and the L.A.Convention Center to reminiscence with Franklin. While most fans connect her to Detroit, Michigan, she was born in Memphis, Tennessee, reared in Buffalo, New York, but also is a long-time resident of Detroit, making her musical debut in her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin’s church choir.
The young Aretha was influenced by musical greats of the fifties, both gospel and secular, including the late great Clara Ward, the incomparable Mahalia Jackson, and the renowned Reverend James Cleveland. She also had the influence of Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, Johnny Ace, and Jackie Wilson, many of them visitors to her parents’ residence.
On Wednesday Franklin demonstrated why she wears the undisputed crown as Queen of Soul. She took the audience on a memory stroll through some of her greatest hits, including “Chain of Fools,” “Daydreaming” and other tunes that had the audience singing along and recording on their smart phones.
Comedian Jonathan Slocum opened for Franklin. Slocum is a clean comedian, who referred to many of the audience as the AARP/Viagra generation. Celebrities in the audience included Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas; fellow Motown entertainer Smokey Robinson, and the venerable Berry Gordy, who took Detroit’s young Black people off the streets and transformed them into household names via his musical production company.
Franklin, who suffered through acute illness several years ago, showed no sign of being impaired in any way; her voice was strong, steady, and she still reaches several octaves from high to low. After a brief intermission, when she changed her apparel, and the dancers entertained, Lady Soul returned to the stage and took her seat at the piano. She did a musical tribute to the late Whitney Houston, spoke about family members and presented a video presentation of them. She has a son who controls the strings on a guitar with absolute perfection.
Franklin wowed the audience for over an hour before leaving the stage, but the musicians and audience kept going because she had not sung her signature hit, “Respect.” Lady Soul returned and put the icing on the cake with “Respect.”
Aretha Franklin was a 2005 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; she has received seventeen Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Grammy Living Legend Award. Additionally, she has been honored in international circles and has influenced numerous female stars who arose after her.
Her musical selections have incorporated a wide genre of styles from Broadway tunes to Barbra Streisand. She has also returned to her gospel roots, recording albums with her sisters Carolyn and Erma.
This was the first Los Angeles concert Franklin has performed in a number of years; it was worth the wait!
Written by: Precinct Reporter Group
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