A little gospel, a whole lot of soul and a sultry-smooth spoonful of R&B are just a few of the musical ingredients found in diva extraordinaire/Soul Queen/Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient with too many merits to list, the one and only Aretha Franklin.
The music legend demanded “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” in 1967, and won her first of 19 Grammys a year after having done so, unleashing unto the world hit song after hit song.
amNY spoke with Franklin.
What can people expect from your upcoming New York City shows?
I’m gonna be at Radio City on June 14 and 15 and I have guest artists that will be performing with me both nights. One of the nights will be the Dizzy Gillespie All-stars who are just — oh man, they are so good it’s just ridiculous. … And I’m bringing a 23-piece band, I have dancers and I’ve got a surprise guest artist and there’s gonna be one thing that the men in the audience are gonna just absolutely love. I know they are!
Any projects in the works?
Mainly my CD. Andre 3000 is coming in to do three tracks with me and the producers that do R. Kelly will be doing the last two tracks for the album.
What is your favorite song to perform?
I don’t have any one favorite — I have a lot of favorites and I don’t ever sing anything that I don’t really like.
You’ve had a lot of health issues and weren’t really able to do concerts, but you recently performed in the White House and in Chicago. How does it feel to be coming back strong?
Oh just wonderful, absolutely wonderful. God is good. My doctors are all happy with every test, hitting a hundred. Yup, absolutely batting a thousand now.
Maya Angelou passed away recently. Did you know her personally?
I did not really know Maya personally, but we did meet on occasion and she did interview me once. She was just a great woman. … I loved her “On the Pulse of Morning” that she did for President Clinton at his inauguration and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” And her recipes — I loved her recipes.
IF YOU GO: Aretha Franklin is performing at Radio City Music Hall Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. 1260 Avenue of the Americas, 212-247-4777, $55-$150