Several Fridays ago, on Sept. 20, CNU was able to allow students to buy discounted tickets of $10 to a spectacular show called “Queens of Soul.” This was monumental because, first of all, we were able to pick seats that were normally hundreds of dollars and buy them at a reduced student price. Secondly, this is the type of music that I enjoy listening too considering it’s what I grew up with due to my aunt, who loves Motown. That night, I had the pleasure to go to the concert with a friend of mine that enjoys watching and listening to concerts. If I would recap the whole show in one word, the word would be “stupendous” (which means “extremely impressive”). The reason behind that was because there wasn’t any bad performances. The performances ranged from incredible and outstanding, all the way to just okay and good. If you can imagine being in the Diamonstein listening and watching the show, you would be able to feel the soul music throughout the concert hall.
Personally, this became a concert that I will never forget because, firstly, it was the first time I bought tickets to see something on my own, and, secondly, I haven’t experienced this good of a concert in this particular generation with this particular type of music in quite a while. This concert celebrated some of the greatest musicians of all time that are passed on through the ones that are currently living. In music terms, it had songs spanning from the Motown era all the way through the present day soul-wise. Those songs were played by the Virginia Opera under their director Adam Turner, and they were sung by three vocalists which were Shayna Stelle, Brie Cassil and Kelly Levesque.
The show started off with a bang with Tina Turner’s hit “Proud Mary” that left the crowd dancing in their seats. It created an atmosphere of stellar performances that blew me away. One of those performances included one of the hardest songs to sing, just like what Simon Cowell said on American Idol when someone couldn’t master a piece. Because of that statement, every time I hear someone sing the song “At Last” by Etta James, the expectations are very high in my book. The vocalist Shayna blew away my expectations, which quickly became one of the greatest performances of the whole night early on in the show. Another song that is considered a song with high expectations was “Midnight Train of Georgia” by the legendary Gladys Knight and the Pips. If you can envision the song on stage, you would be able to feel it through the entire concert hall.
Out of the four outstanding performances, the one that blew me away the most, in which I could feel the song, was by the legendary Marvin Gaye. That song was “I’ve Heard It Through the Grapevine,” one of the greatest hits from the Motown Era when it came out in the late 60’s. I still consider it being one of the most picked songs in today’s culture because every time I turn around, Motown is playing, or I hear it in a week’s theme on a reality show like “The Voice.” Some of the others were by two incredible artists. Those were “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele and both “Fallin” and “Girl on Fire” by Alecia Keys.
Going into the category of non-stellar performances, there was only a few of them luckily, with two being back-to-back of each other. Those performances were “I Got a New Attitude” by Pattie Labelle and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston. They were quickly forgotten when they returned with more outstanding performances from the modern era including one Motown classic right before intermission.
When we returned from intermission, the vocalists welcomed us back with another Tina Turner hit, which was “What Love Got to Do With It.” Even though the song didn’t bring in the same moving atmosphere as “Proud Mary,” it still started the show off right. They did end up placing an atmosphere moving type of a song right after the first one. That song was “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by the one and only Whitney Houston. Because of all of the upbeat songs, they needed to have some ballads included. Those ballads were “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles and “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse. If I would put them in a list comparing them to the songs they already did, they wouldn’t be at the top of the list because I didn’t know them as well as the others. Halfway through the second half of the show, someone moved the audience with a beautiful rendition of Adelle’s “Hello.” In my listing, this would be closer to the top with some of the early performances.
All of the artists that they did before this moment in the show lead up to this particular artist. The world calls her the “Queen of Soul” due to her creativeness towards songs she’d covered (when someone sings somebody else’s songs) and wrote. That particular artist I’m talking about was the one and only Aretha Franklin.
If I could sum up why I like vocalist Aretha, it would be that in almost every song she’d covered, or wrote, whether if it was live or just a recording, you could feel every beat and lyric in the song itself. Songs like “Ain’t No Way” and “Think” is one of the favorites that didn’t make the cut to be in the show. But the ones that were in the show were outstanding and also my favorites in Aretha’s catalog except for one song because I didn’t listen to it the same way as the others. The songs that they picked to help honor the late Aretha were “Respect” (which literally got everyone up onto their feet dancing and singing to the song), “I Never Love A Man The Way I Love You,” “Freeway of Love” and the one and only iconic “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.”
That last song “Natural Woman” is in my record book as one of the greatest she’d done and is also near the top along with “Respect” of my favorite songs sung by Mrs. Aretha. If this helps, picture being in the white house and the “Natural Woman” song started to play and Aretha is just steps away at the piano making the audience, as well as the President and First Lady, cry. That’s how powerful that song is and why that song will always be a favorite. This song also became the encored performance (the performers repeat a song that they previously did before at some point in the show) that left everyone dancing and grooving as they were walking out.
In conclusion, this night was proven to be a success in my book; the event left everyone who attended blessed and grateful for this amazing opportunity of listening to the great soul queens of their generation from Motown through the present day.
~Joshua Grimes, Staff Writer~