By Zarif Alibhai, February 28 2020 —
Aretha Franklin is revered as the Queen of Soul, having won 18 grammys, sold 75 million records worldwide and singing at the inaugurations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. RESPECT! Honouring Aretha played on Feb. 22 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra teaming up with Broadway singer Capathia Jenkins and grammy-nominated soul singer Ryan Shaw. The set ran through iconic Franklin songs including “Respect,” Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Shaw sang lead vocals on tracks from Franklin’s contemporaries, including a rousing rendition of Sam Cooke’s civil rights-era classic “A Change is Gonna Come,” and an energetic performance of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” where he danced with the same energy of Brown in his prime, sliding from side-to-side across the stage. For a moment, it felt like Cooke and Brown themselves had entered the theatre.
The pair duetted on the Christian hymn “Amazing Grace,” of which Franklin has one of the best known versions. The duet gave the feeling that the audience was in church instead of a concert hall. For an encore, the pair lead another duet of Franklin’s “Freedom” as the audience stood on their feet, clapping and dancing along. At the end of the show Jenkins and Shaw took a bow alongside CPO conductor Earl Lee as the crowd whistled and clapped for more.