Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul”, grew up in Detroit, MI, across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The two international cities face each other, and their respective citizens have long been a part of each other’s cultural and musical histories. Yet, Franklin has never performed in Windsor – until now.
On Saturday, February 13 at 9:00 p.m., “The Queen of Soul” will be in concert at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, 377 Riverside Dr. in Windsor. The 18-time Grammy Awards winner said that she’s excited.
“I’m looking forward to my first time ever performing in Windsor,” said Franklin by phone from her metro Detroit home. “I’ve performed in Montreal and Toronto, but it’s going to be special in Windsor.”
With a discography comprised of more than 40 albums and hundreds of singles, a “small sample” of her top-ten songs since the 1960s include, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Ain’t No Way,” “Think,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Call Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Day Dreaming,” “Jump to It,” “Freeway of Love,” “A Rose is Still a Rose,” and dozens more.
“I’m hoping that my fans in Montreal, Toronto, and in other great cities and towns in Canada, as well as fans across the river in Detroit, make the trip to Windsor to see me perform. You don’t want to miss this.”
Her latest album (2014), “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics,” is executively produced by music mogul Clive Davis. The album is a collection of classic songs recorded by some of the industry’s greatest divas, inclusive of Gladys Knight (Midnight Train to Georgia), Gloria Gaynor (I Will Survive), Adele (Rolling in the Deep), Diana Ross & The Supremes (“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and more. Franklin admits that with a huge collection of popular and hit songs, it’s often difficult to pick which ones to sing in concert.
“There are just too many hits songs to sing at one concert,” Franklin said. “But in Windsor, I’m going to perform some of my songs that people really want to hear. I will also put some new things in as well. They (the audience) will love what I have in store for them.”
Franklin has come a long way since singing gospel as a little girl at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, the late Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, served as senior pastor for decades. He also was an accomplished gospel singer, recording artist, and prominent civil rights leader.
At 14, Aretha Franklin recorded her debut gospel album, “Songs of Faith,” released on J.V.B. Records. In 1960, she transitioned to singing R&B/pop after inking a recording deal with Columbia Records. Her first album on Columbia was entitled, “Aretha: With the Ray Bryant Combo,” which yielded Franklin’s first ever single, “Won’t Be Long.”
The song was appropriately named, as it wasn’t long before the songstress became a non-stop hit machine. Over the ensuing six decades, Franklin would go on to win every music award and honor in her field multiple times.
Asked about her wish-list of artists she would love to record with, she replies
“I would love to record with Stevie (Wonder). I really think Stevie and I should record together. It would be a musical injustice if we did not record together. I would also love to make music with Herbie Hancock and Al Jarreau. They don’t know this yet, but they soon will.”
And fans in Europe and in other far away international locales may soon see Franklin up close and personal, because after 33 years of being self-grounded from flying, she said she’s ready to soar once again.
“If I’m ever going to fly again, I have to be willing to try,” said Franklin, who is scheduled to fly to Chicago before her Windsor concert. “I have many fans in London and Paris and other places around the world. As for London, I would love to go back. I have a standing invitation to have tea with the queen.”
However, for now, Franklin is focused on making her debut concert in Windsor a memorable experience.
“I’m inviting everyone to come on out to The Colosseum at Caesars in Windsor,” she said. “I’m hoping that my fans in Montreal, Toronto, and in other great cities and towns in Canada, as well as fans across the river in Detroit, make the trip to Windsor to see me perform. You don’t want to miss this. We are going to have a rocking, socking good time. It will be the day before Valentine’s Day, so I will also be singing for all the lovers and significant others in the house.”