This was our scoop from Forbes, which found its way uncredited everywhere today:
The Queen of Soul and the Most Famous Music Man in the biz are reuniting. Aretha Franklin confirmed for me last night that she’s made a deal with Clive Davis for a new album. So far it’s all hush hush, but Davis sat right next to Franklin at her swanky 70th birthday party dinner at the Helmsley Park Lane hotel– and they didn’t stop talking all night. Aretha will allegedly make a new album for Davis on RCA, which carries her Arista catalog of hits from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, all made with Davis. An official announcement should come soon. Franklin has never been in better voice.
Among the guests for the four course meal and musical treats were Diane Sawyer, Rev. Al Sharpton, singer Nona Hendryx, Harlem musical theater great Vy Higginsen, BET’s Debra Lee, local newsman Maurice DuBois, and opera great Kathleen Battle. The party was such a hit that Franklin had to cancel tickets for “Porgy and Bess” on Broadway. She’ll see it the next time she’s back in New York. In the meantime, entertainment was provided by choreographer George Faison, who directed two small ballet pieces for the guests with his performers. Then Thelonious Monk competition winner Kris Bowers and his jazz band, with singer Jose James just wowed the crowd–they are phenomenal–and Davis was impressed; he was bopping his head to the music. Franklin was in good form, wearing a silver and black art-Deco short dress, greeting guests, taking pictures, and posing with a modest three tiered cake. She joked: “I wanted to know what 50 felt like.” She re-nicknamed herself “RiiRii Buttons” after “Benjamin Button,” the character who ages backwards. Franklin has a busy year ahead of her, including being honored at the Essence Jazz Festival on July 8th in New Orleans.
By the way, contrary to reports, Franklin has been in close touch with Whitney Houston‘s mother, Cissy. They are friends for almost fifty years. Says Aretha: “She had good days and bad days. It’s hard.”
Today–Sunday March 25th–is the Queen of Soul’s actual birthday. Put on one of her albums and dance! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaUyjtbRnRo
photo c2012 Ann Lawlor