Clive Davis-planned tribute to Aretha Franklin to proceed

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In what could have been the most poorly timed announcement, it was revealed yesterday that a tribute to Aretha Franklin is to go on.

Given recent reports of the Queen of Soul’s health crisis, a number of tributes and salutes of various kind have been abundant. However, both Ebony and Billboard report that the planned tribute to Aretha Franklin, organized by Clive Davis, will continue as planned.

Headlines for the announcement sounded at first as if the “tribute” were a preemptive and ill-timed “goodbye.”

Ebony.com reports that the famous music executive received Franklin’s “blessing” in June of this year to put together an all-star tribute to the singer. The point of the tribute is to mark Franklin’s six decades in the music business. The site also notes that the event, called “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” will be held in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The event is scheduled to take place Nov. 14, 2018. It is unclear if Franklin will be able to attend the show, but the organizers plan to create a livestream so that she can see it from home. Also no word yet of an official roster of performers scheduled to take part in the tribute. However, a long-running rumor involves Jennifer Hudson as a featured performer.

Aretha Franklin and 60 years of soul music

While the iconic singer is known for having sustained a long career, 60 years seems incredible. Franklin’s singular voice has served her and her audiences well for singing both Gospel music and soul. The voice is mellifluous, and sometimes powerful, and her tone is full of conviction.

Franklin’s 60 years of recorded history dates back to the mid-1950s, when she was 14 years old. It started with a Gospel album on a small label.

For most people, Franklin is known for such hits as “Chain of Fools,” “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” and more. In the 1980s, her songs “Freeway of Love,” and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet with the late George Michael, continued Franklin’s trajectory as a best-selling performer.

As of 2018, Franklin has won 18 Grammy Awards and sold millions of records. Influential singers from the past 30 years or so to the present often cite Franklin as an inspiration.

While the singer’s ill-health is a reason for concern and sadness, Franklin’s body of work is a national treasure and deserves to be celebrated.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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