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With her charm and a voice that has maintained it's ability to make listeners close their eyes and reach their arms high
toward the sky, the elegant Queen of Soul made bodies move to decades of her music in a packed Celeste Center last
night. Seventy-two-year-old Aretha Franklin walked the stage with a youthful presence making eye contact with
die-hard fans and engaging the crowd throughout her 90-minute set at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
Mentioned by the evening's orator, Franklin requested no air conditioning to prevent her vocal cords from being
affected; however, the down-to-earth diva made the perspiring venue environment worthwhile as she showcased her
moves during a cover of B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen"--licking her fingers to spank her booty and shaking her body from
side to side while slowly moving downward. Her motions made the crowd roar with balanced applause and laughter.
Backed by her stellar big band orchestra, the 18-time Grammy winning artist rarely struggled to match her vocal range
with chosen songs performed from her 38 studio album catalogue including: "Angel," "Chain Of Fools," "I Never Loved
A Man (The Way I Loved You)" and uplifting opener "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher."
Halfway through the set, Franklin left the stage to take a break while the Aretha Franklin Orchestra took over to
entertain the crowd with sax, trumpet, trombone, piano and drum solos. When the band broke into a cover of Pharrell
Williams' hit track "Happy," Franklin returned with a wide smile singing a section of the song and asking the crowd if
they were happy.
Franklin announced, "We're going to church!," and then she sang "Amazing Grace" and "It's About Time For A Miracle."
During a powerful gospel breakdown, she gave a bluesy testament in song discussing her recent health hardships
and how, after two years, the doctors revealed that the CAT Scans showed that she recovered. Following the show's
gospel moment, Franklin sat in front of a piano to perform two songs.
Closing with a crowd moving "Freeway of Love," Franklin exited the stage and made a quick return to perform an
encore of her hit "Respect," which was backed by a screen showcasing a photo montage of Franklin's legendary
career in music from performing with Michael Jackson and James Brown to images of her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
induction and her performance of "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.
As fans began to leave, Franklin sang a classic cover of Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were" while backstage.
Fans will be able to hear more of Aretha Franklin on her upcoming cover song album which will feature work with
Outkast's Andre 3000, Clive Davis, Babyface and others. The album is tentatively set for a September release.
Opening with a brief set was comedian Jonathan Slocumb followed by Aretha Franklin's youngest son Kecalf Franklin
who pumped the crowd up by running across the stage waving a towel with Motown backing songs and a short rap.
Aretha Franklin shines, gets R-E-S-P-E-C-T at Ohio State Fair