Sunday, May 17, 2015

Eric Conway: Aretha Franklin at the Strathmore: Diva means not saying you’re sorry. [She brought out a choir from Morgan State University]

Aretha Franklin performs at the Music Center at Strathmore. (Josh Sisk/For The Washington Post)

Eric Conway, D.M.A. writes on May 14, 2015:

See review of concert with Aretha Franklin last night.  Morgan Choir is mentioned. 

May 14

The voice is no longer as big as the legend. Then again, legends don’t come much bigger than Aretha Franklin.
Franklin’s show Wednesday at the Music Center at Strathmore had a start so rough that only the biggest of legends could get past it. She arrived onstage not only long after the announced start time, but also more than 20 minutes after the house lights had gone dark and her 23-member backing orchestra had been seated. The players sat looking bored and embarrassed while the crowd tried to draw Franklin out front with rhythmic clapping or restless shouts. Any movement from the back incited anxious applause from the fans who thought this time it might be Franklin; one of the ovation receivers turned out to be a valet carrying Franklin’s hilariously monstrous purse, which he placed beside the only slightly larger Steinway grand piano. Strathmore staffers complained openly to patrons about the, um, dis-R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the performer was showing. When she finally showed, Franklin made no acknowledgment of the inconsiderations she had heaped upon her flock.
Diva means never having to say you’re sorry.

She brought out a choir from Morgan State University to back her on a long, preachy version of “Higher Ground,” a gospel tune she recorded in 1987. In between verses, Franklin gave a sermon/monologue crediting the man upstairs for curing her of ailments that in recent years caused her to be a regular no-show at scheduled concerts. “All you got to do is just believe!” she hollered, and the fans responded with a joyful noise of their own. It was as if Franklin wanted the audience to know that, despite her behavior earlier in the evening, she is convinced there’s a power higher than herself.

McKenna is a freelance writer.

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