Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

February 28, 2013

Aretha Franklin looks back on career, time in Buffalo prior to Seneca Niagara show


Niagara Gazette — Franklin’s career began during The Civil Right Movement, and in the early days she faced some challenges when traveling by car in the south.

“There were some gas stations we couldn’t stop at but back then we always stopped at Gulf. Their restrooms were clean, and sometimes the other stations were a problem.”

Franklin worked with many great producers throughout her storied career, including John Hammond, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross and Narada Michael Walden.

“They were really great to work with and they were all very cool, especially Luther (Vandross). I always said he did and didn’t miss his calling. He didn’t miss his calling as a singer, but his sense of humor was amazing. He could have you bending over and hurting your side he was so funny.”

In addition to her career as a singer, Aretha Franklin appeared in an iconic scene in “The Blues Brothers,” as Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s wife. I asked her how she landed the role.

“I got a call from my agent that John Landis wanted to speak to me about a project with Aykroyd and Belushi and I said ‘Absolutely.’ The only thing I didn’t like was that I had to be up at 7 a.m. Once you got there and got made up it was fun, but getting up that early wasn’t fun because I am more of a night person.”

Of all her legendary performances, Ms. Franklin’s breathtaking performance as a last minute stand-in for opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards stands out as one of her best. I asked her how it all came together.

“About three weeks before the Grammy’s MusiCares was paying tribute to Mr. Pavarotti and I worked with my classical coach to learn “Nessun Dorma.” I really crammed for the performance but wasn’t planning on adding it to my repertoire so afterwards I kind of forgot about it. Right before the Grammy performance the producers called me and told me what happened to Mr. Pavarotti and asked me if I could perform it. I panicked a bit, but then I pulled it together for the performance.”

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