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Deva Mahal in Carnegie Tribute to Aretha Franklin

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Tuesday March 07, 2017

From Billboard

The Queen of Soul Receives a Multi-Artist Tribute at Carnegie Hall With ‘The Music of Aretha Franklin’
By: Frank Scheck

The Queen of Soul wasn’t in attendance, but Aretha Franklin would have certainly been thrilled by the musical tribute paid her at Carnegie Hall on Monday night (March 6). Featuring a roster of estimable musicians performing songs recorded by the 74-year-old singer, who has recently announced her upcoming retirement, The Music of Aretha Franklin shook the rafters of the venerable auditorium.

The evening marked the 14th in a series of benefit tribute concerts produced by Michael Dorf, who introduced the show with an appreciation of its honoree. Dorf noted that a teenage Franklin had been persuaded by Sam Cooke to drop out of school to pursue her musical career, which he admitted was “kind of ironic for an evening supporting musical education.” He announced that the show’s net proceeds of approximately $100,000 would be donated to such organizations as Grammy in the Schools, The Center for Arts Education, and the D’Addario Foundation.

That was pretty much it for the speechifying in the fast-paced evening, during which over twenty acts performed one song each, most of them accompanied by the funky house band, Antilbalas. Not surprisingly, many of the performers were cut in the Aretha mold, delivering high-powered vocals that blended soul, gospel, and R&B. A handful were of Franklin’s generation, such as Sam Moore, of Sam & Dave fame, whose high-energy “Don’t Play That Song for Me” belied his years. Gospel singer Naomi Shelton delivered “A Change is Gonna Come” with rapturous intensity from her wheelchair. Taj Mahal and his daughter Deva Mahal affectionately traded vocals on “Chain of Fools.” Sarah Dash, clad in a purple sequin dress and bright blue fur coat, unleashed her still formidable lung power on “Dr. Feelgood (Love is a Serious Business”).

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