Black Twitter is not to be toyed with — especially where there’s a #Beyhive. Beyonce‘s loyal “stanyonces” are being just that — having the “XO” singer’s back!
*Aretha Franklin turned 71 on Monday, March 25th, and celebrated the occasion by working her way through New York City.
She began Monday afternoon by hosting a dinner at Le Bernardin restaurant in Manhattan for friends, including fellow birthday girl Chaka Khan, who turned 60 on Saturday, March 23.
The Queen of Soul went on to attend a performance of Motown: The Musical on Broadway, which ended with the cast singing Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” to their most famous audience member.
The party then continued with a special bash at the Ritz Carlton hotel with guests including Tony Bennett, Berry Gordy, and Reverend Al Sharpton.
Attendees were treated to cakes shaped as Grammy Award trophies.
She’s a vocal woman and obviously gets what she wants in life.
The movie stopped production a few months back (before it even got started), but now it’s back on course to be completed by next year.
According to the Queen of Soul, Taylor Hackford is leading the project as director.
“Oh, yeah. I’m in superb hands with Taylor Hackford. We are fine-tuning the treatment now. The treatment has four acts. He has finished all four,” Franklin told Glamour. “We’re now reworking some of it where it needs work: ‘A little more drama, tell me something else, what else happened here? We need a little more of this, a little more of that.’”
As far as getting her dream cast, Aretha doesn’t have all the say. The director is taking her thoughts into consideration, as if he had a choice, and considering the best men and women for each part.
But as far as the star role, who will it be?
“We have Jennifer Hudson, we have Halle Berry and Audra McDonald. That’s the last three,” says Franklin. “I went to see Audra in Porgy and Bess, and I was very impressed with her dramatic ability. She was terrific.”
Halle Berry? Seriously?
We’ll see what the results will be when the movie actually begins production.
*Aretha Franklin has been honored with a star-studded tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Lauryn Hill, Dennis Edwards of the Temptations and Chaka Khan were among those who paid musical tribute to the legend. The 69-year-old soul singer was not scheduled to perform, but toward the end of the three-hour event she took a seat at a piano and traded verses with Edwards in a rendition of “A Song for You.”
The Queen of Soul also received a key to the city from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson during the Saturday event and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Case Western Reserve University.
The show capped off a weeklong American Music Masters tribute to Franklin.
*Aretha Franklin came to Washington D.C. Tuesday night to receive the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Founder’s Award.
Herbie Hancock, Jennifer Hudson, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright were among the mix of D.C. and Hollywood A-listers on hand to pay homage to Franklin and to the Institute, now in its 25th year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Though public performances since her December surgery have been rare, Franklin gamely followed up a medley of her own hits (performed on Monday by a group that included Hudson, Chaka Kahn, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Diane Reeves) with a smooth rendition of “Moody’s Mood for Love.” And while the standard seemed to bring out the diva’s softer side, Franklin was characteristically feisty offstage in discussing the man whom she — and her iconic hat — helped inaugurate in 2009.
“It was tough when he got there,” she told The Hollywood Reporter of the bleak economic landscape facing President Obama. “He’s doing everything he can do and,” Franklin added for emphasis, “that can be done at this point in time.”
And Aretha may know better than most. She has spent time of late with the President, having revved up the crowd with a brief set before the President’s Labor Day speech in the Motor City, a speech generally seen as the kick-off to the fall political season. “He rocked the crowd!” beamed the woman who knows a thing or two about whipping a crowd into frenzy. “He was terrific!” (Franklin was slated to see Obama again on today, this time for an Oval Office visit alongside finalists of the Monk Institute’s International Jazz Piano Competition).
But while the Queen of Soul had only high marks for the President’s performance, some of her fellow artists were less impressed.
“He knows the game, he got into it,” said pioneering beat boxer Doug E. Fresh. “Show me what you got! It’s like me being an MC –sometimes the mic don’t work. But I can’t stand there and tell the audience ‘Aww, the mic don’t work’. The audience don’t care.”
Longtime “Tonight Show” bandleader and Monk Institute backer Kevin Eubanks saw Obama as only the latest victim of a much bigger problem with American culture.
“We personify [national problems] in the body of one person,” he lamented. “That makes us not responsible. Because if it’s not his fault, then it’s our fault.”
Still, Eubanks predicted that Obama would weather the storm and maybe even earn himself a monument on the National Mall, just as the late Martin Luther King, Jr. did a few weeks ago. (Aretha herself had been scheduled to perform at the monument’s dedication, but Hurricane Irene had other ideas).
Undaunted, the Queen of Soul was in good spirits Monday and, according to associates, seems to have a new lease on life. She’ll duet with Tony Bennett at the Metropolitan Opera House later this month, and offered up that she is close to getting her passion project — an Aretha biopic — off the ground.
“We’re hammering out the last details,” Franklin said of the project, which made headlines earlier this year when the non-singing Halle Berry sidestepped an offer to take on the role. That didn’t sit well with Franklin, who carped to talk show host Wendy Williams that she “would like the person who is going to play me to be more confident.”
But Monday night in D.C., it was Aretha who exuded all the confidence. “Halle Berry,” she said. “I think Halle Berry’s gonna get it.”
*The long-awaited new album from Aretha Franklin is now just one week way from being released.
“Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love,” the Queen of Soul’s 38th studio album, will be available exclusively at Walmart stores and Walmart.com beginning May 3.
The 12-track album, which features first single “How Long I’ve Waited,” is Franklin’s first release since undergoing surgery last December.