Aretha Franklin stops at the Taj Mahal Oct. 6. She chats with Atlantic City Weekly on her biopic, the upcoming presidential election, her favorite singers and a getaway long ago with Bob Dylan.
Heralded as one of the greatest American voices of all time, more than 50 years into her incomparable recording career, Aretha Franklin is still the Queen of Soul. Franklin returns to Atlantic City for a concert at the Trump Taj Mahal on Saturday, Oct. 6. (See photos from the concert here!)
Franklin has sung at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration; performed opera (“Nessun Dorma”) in place of the late Luciano Pavarotti in a pinch at the 1998 Grammys, turned Otis Redding’s “Respect” into a national anthem for civil rights in the late 1960s and is known worldwide for her many recordings, not to mention her classy shows, fine taste in music and her glorious pipes.
Franklin, in Washington D.C. a couple weeks back (late September) to attend the Congressional Black Caucus, sing at the annual Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz drum competition, which she supports, and do some book shopping, spoke to Atlantic City Weekly from her hotel room, where she was nibbling on lunch.
Do you have a lot of other dates lined up along with the Atlantic City show?
I do. I just finished up with an appearance in New York, a memorial for Marvin Hamlisch — a bittersweet evening. I [also did] a benefit for cancer [survivors] on [Sept. 30] at Liberty State Park [in Jersey City], and then I’m doing the Taj on the Sixth of October. And November, I’m doing White Plains, New York, then Constitution Hall in D.C., and Newark, New Jersey, at the Performing Arts Center there. Then I will be getting ready for Christmas!
What’s the latest on the biopic that you have been working on?
Well we’ve been editing [the screenplay], actually. I’ve received all four acts now. There are four acts, and we have been fine-tuning and refining and editing it down.
So you’ve been pretty hands on in the process? It is about you, after all.
Oh yeah, very much so. Much of it is coming from my book, From These Roots. Taylor Hackford and I are writing the treatment.
Is that potentially going to be the title of the film too?
From These Roots? No, it’s Aretha.
What are your thoughts about Jennifer Hudson’s recent hint that she would love to portray you?
(Laughs) I thought that was cute. I thought it was cute. ... My publicist sent it to me, I saw it a couple of days ago. It’s kind of come down to Audra McDonald, Jennifer, and possibly Halle Berry, who has said she does want to do it, to the contrary of what she said to begin with. She did not know she was not required to sing. ... They are going to play the actual, original recordings of myself. But should it turn out to be one of the other two, Jennifer or Audra, then we might have a new version or two of some things, which would be refreshing and very nice.
Were you happy with the Columbia/Legacy box set Take A Look — Aretha Franklin: Complete on Columbia, that came out this year, featuring all of your early Columbia albums?
I haven’t seen or heard it. What’s on there?
All of your Columbia albums.
No, I mean by title. You don’t mean A Queen in Waiting do you?
No. It just came out in January to celebrate your 70th birthday. It has all your Columbia albums.
I don’t think I have that. I don’t have that.
So, you turned 70 in January.
Who?! You know, I don’t know why they can’t get it straight. Who’s 70?
It’s not straight? Wasn’t there a star-studded party in New York in January?
A party? Yeah, I had a party there.
For your birthday?
Yes, but I am 65 and holding!
You have been singing for many decades —
No, not really. … I started at about 15 with my dad, singing gospel.
Well, more years than most other singers today have sung. Do you do anything special to preserve your singing voice?
I wouldn’t say that either. But yes, I do take care of my voice. I don’t do things that I feel abuse the voice.
Certain foods or anything like that?
Well, at one point I was having reflux, and I didn’t understand why, which is not good for the voice. But I went to my ear, nose, and throat specialist and he took me off of Coca-Colas, chocolates, and one or two other things, and I haven’t had a problem like that since.
Do you miss chocolate?
I was eating a lot of chocolate and drinking Coca-Colas. You know, a nice cold Coke after a concert was really great, but it was giving me reflux too.
Kelsey and Kim Jackson, with help from fellow local Allen Thomas, have been drawing crowds to Atlantic City’s Kentucky Avenue with jazz, soul and R&B.
It was a great turnout and Ralph Hunter was in rare form last Saturday when the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey was honored with the U.S. Postal Service’s unveiling of the Rosa Parks commemorative stamp on the 100th anniversary of her birth.
Rock Art Show at Hamilton Mall Feb. 8-10; Horseback Riding on the Atlantic City Beach
The Atlantic City region hosted Aretha Franklin, Nicki Hilton and Mike Trout, plus more!
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Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall
Rush to the Taj