West Michigan Symphony season opening celebrates Michigan’s Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin

Muskegon, Michigan, September 18, 2023—She left us just five years ago, but Aretha Franklin remains one of the most influential singers of all time. West Michigan Symphony will present a concert tribute to the Queen of Soul at 7:30pm Friday, September 29. Music Director Scott Speck will lead the performance featuring Franklin’s greatest hits, including “Respect,” “A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think” and “Amazing Grace,” among others. Joining him will be a formidable singer duo straight from the stages of Broadway: Capathia Jenkins and Darryl Williams. Sponsored by The Leonard Luxury Apartments, the performance will be held in the Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon. For tickets, starting at $19 for adults, $10 for students, call 231.727.8001.

The first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin released her initial
legendary single, “Respect,” in 1966. This was followed by three additional top ten hits—“Baby I Love You,” “A Natural Woman” and “Chain Of Fools”—resulting in two Grammys. Not only a musical sensation, Franklin also came to represent the cause of civil rights on the strength of “Respect” and its message of equality, peace, and justice. She continued to release pop hits throughout the decade, including “Think,” “I Say A Little Prayer and “Ain’t No Way.” Her 1972 LP Amazing Grace became the best-selling gospel album of all time. In the ‘80s she appeared with Ray Charles and James Brown in The Blues Brothers and hit the R&B top ten once again with her album Jump To It. In 1992 Franklin sang “Someday We’ll All Be Free” for the soundtrack to the biopic Malcolm X (1992). Her 2011 LP A Woman Falling Out of Love marked her 50th Anniversary in show business.

Brooklyn-born actor/singer Capathia Jenkins most recently starred in the Broadway production of Newsies and the off-Broadway 2000 revival of Godspell, wowing audiences with her stirring rendition of “Turn Back, O Man” (which can be heard on the cast recording). She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her role in (mis)Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story. TV credits include 30 Rock, Law & Order and the Sopranos. She can be heard on the soundtracks for the films Nine, Chicago and Legally Blonde 2. Darryl Williams has toured extensively in the Broadway hit Smokey Joe’s Cafe with the legendary Gladys Knight and was co-arranger for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel, winning rave reviews for his portrayal of Judas. Currently based in New York City, Darryl was a semi- finalist at the world famous Apollo Theatre.

An anchor cultural organization headquartered in Muskegon, West Michigan Symphony led by Music Director Scott Speck is a resident presenting group at the Frauenthal Center, where its eight-concert season is the most visible part of a larger artistic enterprise of far-reaching community benefit. WMS concerts and education events bring 16,500 people—more than 30% of whom are children and students—downtown annually, making it the largest performing arts organization on the West Shore.

Free shuttle transport is available to and from the Muskegon Farmer’s Market parking lot right to the door of the Frauenthal. Immediately after the concert, patrons are invited to the lower level Frau Lounge to mix and mingle with Scott Speck and the guest artists and musicians. ###

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts