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.
You performed at the 2009 Inauguration of President Obama. What do you remember from that experience?
It was just one great momentous morning and it was terrifically cold. I wished he had it inside, which would have been wonderful. But, traditionally, it was the thing to do.
How do you feel Obama’s been as president?
I think that he has done the very best job that he could with what he has had to work with and what things were when he arrived in office. It was in a terrific mess wasn’t it? I think that he has tried to do the best by everyone.
Are you voting in the upcoming election?
Well I always vote, of course. I vote. Everyone should vote. If you don’t vote you have no right to complain.
Prior to the casinos, there were lots of great nightclubs in Atlantic City, like the Club Harlem.
Oh yes, the Club Harlem, that’s right. That was really back in the day!
You played there.
Oh yeah, absolutely. I did the breakfast show there. Sure did. They had the best chicken wings. Wow! And the hot sauce; oh man, were they good.
And they were available at breakfast time?
[Yes], with grits, eggs [and] toast. At four in the morning.
A lot of singers, such as Sam Cooke in August 1964, had residencies there. Did you? Or was it a one-off show?
No, I just performed there with Larry Steele and his revue. I was a very young artist then. Yeah, I just loved the Club Harlem though, that was a great room.
Any other fond memories of Atlantic City?
Well, I really just love coming to Atlantic City. The Boardwalk is too fabulous. Just walking the Boardwalk stopping to buy some salt-water taffy, you know. I went and bought a beautiful camera [on] the Boardwalk [a way down] from the hotel [once]. The shopping is really, really cool. … [I]t’s just always so festive. Usually when I come the weather is great. This is the latest in the year that I will have come, I think. I am usually there during the summer.
Both you and Bob Dylan were signed by John Hammond Sr. to Columbia Records in the early 1960s.
That’s right. At Columbia Records. And Streisand was there at the same time. We all really came along together.
Did you ever hang out with Dylan?
No, I didn’t. But we went down to Puerto Rico one year for the Columbia Records convention, and all of the artists were out on the beach at midnight, you know. So we had a really super time, swimming at midnight and running up and down the beach. You know how young teenagers are.
Is there any lesson from the 1960s, in general, that may have a helping hand in helping today’s world.
From the ’60s? Just offhand I can’t think of any. Not right offhand, I’m sure there must be, there has to be something though. I just can’t think of any right offhand. But the ’60s were a very interesting period in American history, certainly. We had “love children” and hippies and Aretha and Bob Dylan.
Yeah, absolutely, I mean everybody needs that. Even little three and four year olds want respect in their own little way, certainly attention. Maybe we should call it that.
Who is the most captivating singer you’ve ever heard perform?
You mean besides me? (Laughs) Well, I certainly enjoy myself, I must tell you that. And I appreciate the fact that people enjoy myself. Some of the other singers that I have enjoyed, one among many: Judy Garland. I think was one of the greatest singers of all time. Of course there are others: Barbara Hendricks, classical, whom I enjoy. And Kathleen Battle, whom I enjoy. Renee Fleming, classical. Have you heard her? She’s terrific, make a point of hearing her.
Where: Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City
When: Sat., Oct. 6, 8pm
How Much: $60, $75 and $120
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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