RIP: Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

By Greg Haymes

Upon hearing about the passing of Aretha Franklin today, I flashed back to several of her memorable performances around Greater Nippertown.

There was that cringe-worthy performance at SPAC’s Jazz Fest, where she unwisely brought out her son to do some rapping in the middle of her show. The crowd booed, and, well, let’s just say that the Queen of Soul didn’t react so regally at that.

But then there was her final Local 518 concert at EMPAC at RPI in Troy. It was a RPI community-only celebration Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson’s tenth anniversary as college president back in December, 2009.

Here’s an excerpt from my review:

“At the piano, Franklin pounded out a righteous, rumbling instrumental introduction and then sent her vocal cords sailing through ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ For about 12-15 minutes.

“It was epic. It was towering. It was transcendent – Franklin testifying and her quartet of back-up singers wailing right back in a call-and-response crescendo. Then they kicked it into double-time, and Franklin rose up from the piano and served up a bit of fancy footwork as she danced across the stage.

“Now, Franklin is not a small woman. And she was decked out in a bright red, sparkling, floor-length gown with a four-foot train trailing behind her, making any kind of choreography a chore and a half. But when the spirit moves you, you just gotta surrender.

“And when Aretha sings, you can bet that the spirit is gonna move you.”

GO HERE to read the complete review…

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