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Carmel Symphony Orchestra presents tribute to Aretha Franklin

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A night of rhythm and soul is coming to Carmel as the Carmel Symphony Orchestra pays homage to the one and only Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

“Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” will take the stage at The Palladium for the CSO’s final performance of the season May 6 at 7:30 p.m. The performance is part of the Pops Series and aims to highlight the life and legend of the multi-grammy award-winning singer and Hall of Famer, said Janna Hymes, creative director of the CSO.

Tamika Lawrence (Photo provided)

“There are a lot of young people that want to hear current music, you know, not that Aretha is current, but a lot of people know the songs, the lyrics … and they’re really into it,” Hymes said. “So, it’s really important — to me anyway — that an orchestra, which I think is a heartbeat of a community, really listens to the community,” Hymes said. 

Hymes said the orchestra has been diversifying its repertoire for the last several years to include an array of classical music as well as more modern pieces and pop music. Hymes said she heard about “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” — which is a package show that travels to different orchestras around the country upon request — a little over a year ago and thought it would be perfect for Carmel’s audience.

“It’s a really great show because it has all of her big hits, but it also has other music on it,” Hymes said. “I think people will be really surprised to hear some other music as well. It’s all really loved music, but somehow, they put it together so that there’s a relationship between Aretha’s music and this other music.”

Guest singers Tamika Lawrence, Shaleah Adkissin, Melvin Tunstall III and John Boswell will accompany the CSO onstage for hit songs, such as “Natural Woman,” favorite cover songs, such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “A Change is Gonna Come,” and to share anecdotes from Aretha’s life, Lawrence said.

Lawrence, a two-time Grammy Award-winning singer and actress, said she has been performing “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” with orchestras in cities all over the U.S. since 2019. The show holds significance for her as she grew up with Franklin’s music and said she was influenced by both Aretha’s music and her activism.

Shaleah Adkissin (Photo provided)

“Part of who I am as an artist is influenced by her not only on stage but how she was off stage and who she was as a businesswoman,” Lawrence said. “I also want to impart stories about her life to other people so that they might be inspired by who she was and what she did for women, Black women, for people of color and for all musicians.”

The CSO loves doing the Pops concerts and is excited to present “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” as Hymes said it will not only show off the orchestra’s versatility with a mix of upbeat and soulful sounds but will also allow audience members to come together for a night, have fun while listening to legendary music and celebrate the end of the 2022-23 season.

Lawrence said she hopes those who attend the performance are reminded of “all of the wonderful music Aretha Franklin gave us over the many decades,” as well as her contributions to the music industry and her activism for Black women, people of color and all musicians.

Melvin Tustall III (Photo provided)

“I hope that they all fall in love again with her discography,” Lawrence said. “I hope that they learn a lot about her, her activism and her intelligence, and how wonderful she was as a well-rounded human being and not just a singer. She was more than that.”

“Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” takes place May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palladium, 1 Carter Green, Carmel. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at thecenterpresents.org. More information about the performance and the CSO can be found at carmelsymphony.org

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx. 

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