*Aretha Frankin was only supposed to sit and enjoy a musical tribute in her honor as she was inducted into Apollo Theater’s hall of fame Monday night – but the Queen of Soul surprised the packed venue with an impromptu performance of her own – so impromptu that she was still carrying her purse.
The Apollo’s Spring 2010 Benefit Concert & Awards Ceremony saw Franklin (sporting the same dress she wore at the Tony Awards the night before) and Michael Jackson (posthumously) inducted into the hall of fame, while Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were awarded for their humanitarian efforts.
Host Jamie Foxx frequently burst into improvised musical sets with the house band backing him, according to the following review by Billboard.com:
The gala saw a performance by Clark King, who was deemed the star of tomorrow and most promising amateur performer. He performed an original piece, and his good looks teamed with a soulful voice and phenomenal range made clear his potential – at least according to Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, who led a standing ovation for the young up-and-comer. Jamie Foxx then joked with him, “You just killed Justin Bieber.”
Danny Glover introduced the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings performed “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in an energetic tribute that had Sharon stomping and the whole room moving.
Estelle was up next, demanding everyone sway their arms as she sang “Day Dreaming.” Finally, Aretha appeared, dressed golden sparkles and fur. Prompted by the audience, she gave a brief rendition of “Rock Steady” with Glover and Foxx accompanying her on stage.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony accepted the Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis Arts and Humanitarian award for their work in raising money for childrens’ healthcare through their Maribel foundation. In a figure hugging, low cut gold dress by Gianfranco Ferre, Lopez insisted that the great tool as a celebrity is the power to do good. When Jamie Foxx forced Marc Anthony to hold a note for the eager audience, Anthony departed the stage only to be called back for an impromptu performance.
Jamie Foxx introduced Michael Jackson’s induction with tales of his first time seeing the performer, proclaiming him a true entertainer who didn’t rely on lip-syncing or autotune to put on a spectacular show. Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry then performed “Butterflies,” bringing chills to the crowd with the power of performing the song she herself penned for the late R&B legend.
Chris Tucker accept Jackson’s award on behalf of his family and children. He revealed that Jackson had a playful side, nicknaming him “Christmas,” but was also a generous friend who gave away his own television after he heard Chris admiring it.
Finally, Donnie McClurkin lead the audience through emotional renditions of “Heal the World” and “Earth Song,” backed by a gospel choir.
Marsha Ambrosius, Chris Tucker, Danny Glover, Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett and Clark King returned to the stage to join Donnie and the audience in song, while Aretha Franklin filmed the performance on her camera phone from her private box.