An evening of Aretha Franklin

On March 25, 1942 a girl was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Later she moved to Detroit and continued to live there. Her mother left home when she was only six years old. She had one kid at 15 and another at 16. She gave them to her grandmother to raise to be able to go on with her life. Sounds like a typical hard life story, doesnt it?

Here is another story for you. There was a woman, titled The Queen of Soul or Lady Soul as many called her. She won 17 Grammy awards, putting out over 20 albums, singing since the young age of 14. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, second woman to make it into the UK Hall of Fame, received the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts. There is nothing typical about that story.

The amazing thing is that the first and the second woman are the same. This is the life of one of the American legends, Aretha Franklin. Winning all those awards and accomplishing what would seem like the impossible, she came to New York City as a part of her tour. After a 20-year absence, she stepped on stage of the world famous Apollo Theater and granted the gift of Soul music and of her own soul to astonished and delighted spectators. Supported by a legendary orchestra and a legendary conductor shes put out an over hour long, 2 parted set 2 nights in a row.

That woman has So many hits under her belt, she did not hesitate to open with an absolute classic, Respect. She followed up with What Can I Do?, Aint No Way, Giving Him Something He Can Feel and several other classics. This 64 year-old woman stood on stage in all her greatness and with all her amazing past and gave everyone what she has been giving for over 50 years. She gave them her all. Radiating confidence of a legend, she was so full of life and had oh so much vigor to add to her persona. Still giving nothing but smiles, as always, she was exuding warmth and charming and soft, yet powerful presence. After a career of accomplishments unmatched by even her peers from those days her voice may have not been the same, but her presence, her aura and her overall gist carried on from the past.

Aretha gave so many people so many wonderful moments and memories over the span of her career. What person over the age of 40 doesnt remember listening to her classics out of a radio, while bathing in the sun on some idle afternoon? Whether one is a fan of soul music or not, most would admit to her greatness and her ability to influence people with her music. There arent a lot of inspirational performers left who touch your soul with every song. Perhaps that is another reason why everyone was so excited to see her live on what is claimed to be her final tour. People danced, raised their hands in excitement and screamed We love you Aretha throughout her time on stage. At times she had even brought tears to peoples eyes. Watching her in awe and admiration, the entire audience trembled at Arethas power and charisma.

In the spirit of a warm Southern host, Aretha spoke to all, sharing some of her memories, stories and even tribulations. She told a fable of Mohammed Ali traveling on a plane. When an airline attendant told him to fasten his seat belt, Ali came back with Superman dont need no seatbelt. Well, he got a quick answer: Superman dont need no plane either. Speaking of her love for her man, why she loves him and what a real man represents, she did not follow up with I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), but people didnt mind. Speaking of herself as a lady, she told a story of her last performance at Apollo. How she wouldnt give up the phone talking to her boyfriend at the time. How she was young and stubborn, inspired and enlightened. She spoke of her dad and about a good man. She spoke about being real. She spoke of the feeling at the Grammys and of the world of music. She shared herself with everyone as a woman, a person, a daughter and an artist.

Then she called on a man in the audience. Reverend Al Sharpton got up from his seat, climbed on stage, danced to Arethas music and hugged her. She dedicated a song to him then.

Have you been to church?, she asked. Then just to make sure all got the spirit Aretha sang a gospel. Thanking the crowd, she looked truly appreciative of all the attention and genuinely excited. She even got to dancing herself and got the audience standing up and clapping. To add the sensation of a true multitalented artist, she got behind a piano and did several songs while playing it.

The concert being her first of the 2 nights at Apollo, she invited everyone back the next day. Then dancers and back up singers came on stage and Aretha gave a festive Dr. Feelgood to make sure all got to dancing. She closed her performance softly with The Greatest Love of All, reminding that Children are our future.

Aretha Franklins spirit, voice and story came to New York once again. If there was anything left unfinished when she stepped off the stage, then it would have to be desire for her to make the concert last a little longer. Aretha presented a wonderful evening of charm, wits and unprecedented talent. Her fans returned the love with admiration, appreciation and respect.

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