Courtesy photos from The Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts
Shake-it-up Aretha Franklin tribute with Broadway stars, a gospel choir
Get your hips ready, loosen up those shoulders, and prepare to shout on cue. Icon Aretha Franklin’s astounding musicality urged Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts executive director Gary Hygom to produce an original concert honoring her life, “Queen of Soul: A Musical Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” Thursday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. Grammy and Emmy Award winner John McDaniel, who helped produce PTPA’s “Hair” concert earlier this year, will direct the show. The program includes The Late Show’s Gospel Choir, The HooDoo Loungers & Friends, and Broadway stars Danyel Fulton and Darius De Haas. Franklin died on August 16, at age 76 from pancreatic cancer, but her musical legacy is burnished forever in over 100 singles that made the Billboard charts, 20 as No. 1 R & B hits. Grammy Awards numbered 18, she made the cover of Time Magazine in 1968, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, its first woman, in its second year of celebration in Cleveland, Ohio. Her fans were worldwide. The ease, surety and range of Aretha Franklin’s vocals urged legions of audiences to stand and point for emphasis during the rouser “Think,” with a soaring gospel backup. “Respect,” an Otis Redding song, galvanized women with her take-no-prisoners performance. It was a demand for equality among the sexes, but also became a call for social justice. Franklin would comment she never thought the Civil Rights movement would eventually use it as a mantra. As director McDaniel describes it, the program, like Franklin, will be a stunner. “Danyel Fulton and Darius De Haas are two performers I know from the theatre who are incredible artists,” McDaniel said in a recent phone interview. “They sing songs in their own way but also there will be moments they harken back to the way Aretha sang. We’re doing terrific standards like, `Skylark,’ `Say A Little Prayer.’ We’re shooting for about 20 songs. We’ll intersperse film clips from her life and The Late Night Show’s Gospel Choir will join us.” The Hoodoo Loungers, acting as the house band, will liven up things even more. Joe Lauro, (string, electric bass, vocals) is a founder of The Hoodoo Loungers with David Deitch, a nine piece band that mixes traditional New Orleans jazz, Brass Band, classic R&B and funk. He spoke to the Advance by phone. “Two of our lead singers, Dawnette Darden and Marvin Joshua, come from gospel churches and that’s where Aretha came from,” Lauro said. “Her father, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, was a Baptist minister and one of the most influential preachers in the country. Aretha was the wonder child. So Darnette will do most of the leads. We’ll do a cross section of absolute classics and powerful gospel music throughout her career.” Lauro shared an anecdote about Franklin. “In my other life I’m a documentary film maker of music,” he said. “Every year the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame honors a living legend for a full week. Their American Music Masters Series in 2011 was dedicated to Aretha and they asked me to produce it and put together a one-hour show, an all-star tribute, with film. I’m backstage watching it on the monitor, there’s a clip from 1967 of her at the piano singing `Dr. Feelgood’ and I turn and found she was watching the clip next to me and my son with her mouth open. She wasn’t supposed to perform but after watching the clip, she signaled she wanted to come out on stage. They stopped the show, rolled out a grand piano and she performed solo for 20 minutes. We like to think that that clip got her to perform.” This performance is unique, McDaniel pointed out. You only get one chance to see it. “This is a concert that can only happen here because (PTPA executive director Gary Hygom) is using folks from here on Long Island and New York,” he said. “It’s a unique show and we’re putting in everything into it.”
For tickets to, “Queen of Soul: A Musical Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” click on patchoguetheatre.org. Or call the box office at 631-207-1313. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
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