The Queen of Soul is beyond imitation, but this band of passionate artists do a damn good job. It’s a bold show that could only ever succeed if fronted by a superstar that could do Aretha Franklin justice, but Cleopatra Higgins fills those shoes as well as anyone could.
As you can imagine for a story about Aretha Franklin the music is the at the core of this production, and it does not disappoint. It captures your soul and takes over, it’s leg shaking, body rocking, lip quaveringly good. The power of her voice is thunderous as she has a beautiful mastery of these gorgeous songs. And she’s backed by a phenomenal band who all clearly adore these timeless classics.
It would be sacrilegious to not get up and dance meaning the whole room is swinging. This group has brought a little slice of the south into a small theatre in Edinburgh. It’s so soulful as they belt all your favourites like ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ and of course ‘Respect’. And they don’t shy away from singing the blues and the more vulnerable Franklin tracks.
The music is nicely interspersed with real clips from Aretha’s father talking about how great she truly is and the band telling stories about her life. It’s so apparent that Aretha Franklin is an idol to these people, and they are so knowledgeable about her. They discuss her youth, growing up in a church to her time as a civil rights activist and feminist icon. It’s such a beautiful way of honouring her, I just wish there was more of it.
Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest artists to ever grace this planet and her memory will live on through her amazingly talented fans like these. Her music is irrepressible and if you are willing to get up and groove then this show is perfect for you.
The Aretha Franklin Story
14:35 at theSpace Symposium Hall (Venue 43)
August 20 – 28