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Queen of Soul: Tribute show at Queen’s Theatre celebrates the life of Aretha Franklin

PUBLISHED: 15:16 20 February 2019

Letitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter Sweeney

Letitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter Sweeney

Archant

A lifelong fan of Aretha Franklin hopes to get audiences in Hornchurch dancing along to the well-known songs of the Queen of Soul.

Letitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter SweeneyLetitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter Sweeney

Power house vocalist Letitia George stars in a heartfelt dedication to Aretha Franklin at the Queen’s Theatre.

Respect to Aretha will pay homage to the extraordinary career of the Tennessee singer and songwriter that spanned more than six decades.

Letitia told the Recorder: “The show is a tribute to Aretha, because let’s be honest, no one can do Aretha.

“We want to give people who might have never had the opportunity to see her live, to see her songs sang with a live band and live vocals.

“We want to be able to show people the passion and love.

“There are things that I will tell the audience about Aretha that they may not know.

Letitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter SweeneyLetitia George stars in this heartfelt dedication to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Photo: Peter Sweeney

“I want to create a vibe where it’s like you came out with your friends to see a friend and reminisce about that friend and you go home feeling a little bit of warmth.”

Aretha rose from a church gospel singer to international stardom at a young age and is widely accepted as the finest female soul singer of our time.

She received numerous honours throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – the first female performer.

Aretha died at her home on August 16 last year, aged 76.

Letitia said that she wants the show to be a celebration of Aretha’s life rather than a sombre performance of mourning.

“When you go to the theatre you get all dressed up and then you kind of just sit there and maybe you feel like you can’t dance because you’re in the theatre,” she said.

Letitia George is a lifelong fan of Aretha Franklin. Photo: Peter SweeneyLetitia George is a lifelong fan of Aretha Franklin. Photo: Peter Sweeney

“But not in this show. We want to have a party and for people to get up and dance.

“We’re celebrating Aretha’s life.”

Letitia rose to the spotlight after featuring on series four of BBC 1’s The Voice UK in 2015, where she became a member of Team Ricky and soared her way through to the knockout rounds.

She also presents the radio show The C Word on BBC Radio Coventry every Monday evening and has just won this year’s Gillard Award for Newcomer of the Year.

Letitia said Natural Woman has always been her favourite song.

“Every time I sing that song I have to tell myself, girl you’ve got to get a grip, you can’t cry,” said the Coventry based singer.

“Every time I sing it I always sing it like it’s the last time I’ll ever sing that song.

“There’s something very special about that song. It’s my favourite by far.”

Speaking about what made the soul singer so inspirational, Letitia said: “I think one of the things was her voice – it of course made her stand apart from the majority of artists that walked the earth and it came naturally to her.

“She was also so humble and quite a shy woman.

“I just think to be in her industry and to be who she was, she was still always about the music.

“Nowadays it’s very much about the persona and who has the biggest ego. To have such a skill and talent and still stay so humble, is amazing.”

Letitia unfortunately never had the opportunity to see Aretha live, however Julie Sweeney, co-founder of Sweeney Entertainments was one of the lucky ones to see Aretha perform in New York last year.

She said: “This is my most passionate project in 18 years.

“I am so delighted to be producing this show. Nobody will ever replace the Queen of Soul but this is our way of paying tribute to the greatest Soul singer of all time.”

Respect to Aretha plays at the Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane on Sunday, March 3 at 7.30pm. Visit queens-theatre.co.uk for tickets.

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