Sunday, April 14, 2024

Exclusive: Aretha Franklin Approved All-Star Tribute Concert Booked for Madison Square Garden in November



Sony Music’s Clive Davis proposed this idea to Aretha Franklin in late June: an all-star tribute concert to commemorate her 60 years in show business. her 18 Grammy Awards, and six decade impact on music from pop to R&B to opera.

The date is November 14th for “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” presented with Live Nation.

Even before Aretha’s health became a concern this spring, she and Davis discussed the idea at length. Indeed, they each mentioned it to me last month when I went to to Detroit to see Aretha. The Queen of Soul was beyond delighted. She personally approved Jennifer Hudson, who is slated to play Aretha in a biopic for Sony/Tri-Star, as one of the lead performers.

Aretha herself had hoped to be in the audience if not actually perform. If she can’t get there, the show will be live-cast to her in Detroit via any number of methods.

A fantasy line up: A real show covering her all hits would fill up three hours easily. You can imagine Stevie Wonder singing the hit he wrote for her, “Until You Come Back to Me.” Paul McCartney originally wrote “Let it Be” for Aretha. Franklin’s Grammy winning cover hit of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” has been described by Paul Simon has his favorite version. Aretha also had a hit with Dionne Warwick’s “I Say a Little Prayer.” She also scored with Elton John’s “Border Song.” Aretha won a Grammy covering Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Coming,” which Sam Moore could perform. Ditto on “Don’t Play That Song for Me.”

And then, of course, think of all the other hits– from “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” Carole King’s “Natural Woman,” and the two monsterĀ  hits Aretha wrote for herself– “Daydreamin” and “Rock Steady.”

Here’s something you may not know: before Nile Rodgers offered “Upside Down” to Diana Ross, he tried to persuade Aretha to sing it. She just wasn’t feeling it, though. A couple of years ago, I got them on the phone together and they reminisced about it. “I still don’t think it was for me,” Aretha said to me later. “Diana was the right one!”


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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