Coachella? Never heard of her. Essence Fest, step aside. The biggest and baddest music festival of the decade will be held in next Friday in Detroit, and you’d have to beg, steal, or slap on a wig and borrow somebody else’s identity, if you wanted to attend. Aretha Franklin’s homegoing celebration is scheduled for August 31, and the lineup of artists slated to perform includes Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Holliday, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, and a slew of other superstars from the gospel, classical, R&B worlds.
The line-up for the funeral service is: Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Shirley Caesar, Ronald Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Holliday, Edward Franklin, and gospel stars Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, The Williams Brothers, Marvin Sapp, the Clark Sisters and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Also on the roster are The Aretha Franklin Orchestra, the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir and singers Audrey DuBois Harris and Alice McAllister Tillman.
Deadline says that the funeral will be private but that “some public seating might be made available”. I wouldn’t take that as an invitation to fly to Detroit to see if you can sneak in at the last minute. Those seats are probably meant to hold people like Stevie Wonder’s second cousin twice removed who didn’t get an invite but is going to play dumb and show up anyway. In other words, they are not for plebs with GoPros tucked under their shirts.
There’s also going to be a free concert, open to the public at Chene Park amphitheater on Thursday. Gladys Knight, Johnny Gill, Ronald Isley, The Four Tops, and Karen Clark-Sheard are expected to perform. So there’s still a chance to get your wig snatched in the name of The Queen. There’s also the public viewing which will be held the Tuesday and Wednesday proceeding the funeral and concert.
And since most of the world won’t be able to participate in the services, Clive Davis is planning a tribute concert at Madison Square Gardens on November 14th. That show will be called Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin and will probably be televised at some point. No lineup has been announced for that show, but I’m sure there will be lots of controversy and scoffing when they inevitably add some pop stars in beautiful gowns to the bill for ratings.
I had my first choir practice of the season last night and naturally there was quite a bit of discussion about our Queen. We communed in her name and it was cathartic. We don’t need to go to her funeral to honor her. Our thoughts and voices can reach her, and each other, from right where we are.
Here’s Fantasia honoring The Queen in person from the UNCF “An Evening Of Stars” concert in her honor from 2006.
Who prayed salt water all over my keyboard?!?!
Pic: Wenn.com (That’s Patti LaBelle paying tribute at a concert last night)