In her final decade, Aretha Franklin’s two best-loved performances both took place in Washington. In 2009, she graced Barack Obama’s inauguration with a gorgeous “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” while wearing a hat so remarkable it ended up on display in the Smithsonian on Dec. 6, 2015, she sang an unforgettable rendition of her own anthem of rebirth, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King, who was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement alongside Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson and other luminaries.
The 1967 single is sensual and spiritual; after 48 years, Ms. Franklin felt it more deeply than ever. It was a showstopper at the Kennedy Center — and on internet browsers everywhere. Soon after, Elton John told The Times that he had been watching the “Natural Woman” clip over and over. “I will definitely, when I’m 75, be having a fur coat like that, and coming in with a clutch bag, too,” Mr. John promised. “And throwing my coat off. And in a fishtail dress.”
We spoke with performers, guests and others who were at the Kennedy Center that night about their memories of Ms. Franklin’s soaring performance. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.
RICKEY MINOR, musical director of the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony The producers were interested in Aretha — her doing “Natural Woman” was kind of a no-brainer — and I knew that she attended the Kennedy Center Honors every year, sitting in the audience to celebrate the honorees.
DEBORAH F. RUTTER, president of the Kennedy Center Aretha received her Kennedy Center Honor in 1994, at a time when most Honors recipients were at or nearing the end of their careers. That she continued performing and producing new work for the next two decades is a testament to a talent that transcends age and time.
GLENN WEISS, executive producer and director of the Honors ceremony There was a big back and forth before Aretha agreed to perform, but the song was such a huge iconic thing in her life. I think it was important for her to be there.
CHILINA KENNEDY, who has played Carole King in the Broadway musical “Beautiful” and appeared in the Kennedy Center Honors tribute I’d heard the story of how Carole and Gerry [Goffin] had written the song for Aretha: they were walking down Broadway and [producer] Jerry Wexler pulled up in his limo and rolled down the window and said, “Hey, I want you guys to write a song called ‘Natural Woman.’”
MINOR With Aretha, you need to be bendable and not breakable. It was going to be just her with the orchestra, but she made a call and said, “Hey, I have a way that I do this song with my background singers.” Everyone needs what they need to be comfortable.
WEISS She always walks onstage with her purse. When we were in rehearsals, she walks out and puts it on the piano. When she walks downstage, she picks it up and puts it on the floor. The show ends with everyone in the tribute downstage singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” In rehearsal, there’s a line of people in street clothes — her, James Taylor, Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monáe — and this one bag sitting in the middle of the stage. When we finished the song, James Taylor leaned over to pick up the bag and hand it to her, being a gentleman, and reflexively she almost pushed him away.
WEISS Traditionally the honorees go to the White House for a reception, and then they go back to the Kennedy Center, the president comes, and the show starts. Unfortunately, that weekend the San Bernardino shooting happened. We were told by the White House that the president is addressing the nation at 8 o’clock, and we’re scheduled to start at 7:30. The night was a bit of a roller coaster and maybe a little emotional, but the president came to us at intermission.
MINOR I always welcome everybody before the show and thank them for coming, because I probably won’t see them after the show. I knocked on Aretha’s door — she’ll make you wait, you won’t just walk in there. There were a lot of people in there — hair and makeup, she was getting ready — but she was in a great mood.
KENNEDY For the 11 o’clock number of the Carole King section, I introduced her, said, “Aretha Franklin!” and people freaked out.
MINOR The honorees don’t know who’s performing for them.
KENNEDY Carole was losing her mind, Obama was losing his mind, everyone was going wild. I was standing in the wings with James Taylor, who was just as excited to see what was going to happen.
JAMES TAYLOR To me, Aretha is the ultimate — not that it’s a competition. She didn’t open her mouth unless what came out was brilliant.
KENNEDY Out she walks with her fur coat and her purse; she whacks the purse on the piano and sits down. They cut this part out of the segment that went to air, but she did a few scales, taking her time getting ready, and then all of a sudden she hits that first note, “Looking out on the morning,” and it was the most unbelievable performance I had ever seen.
MINOR Carole just kept saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and holding her head. She had never seen Aretha play piano and sing her song. Lots of people don’t know that Aretha plays piano, but if you want to get her true sound, you need her playing. Vocally she knows where she’s going, so she can lead herself into that on piano. She’s got more movement in certain places than most pianists would. That teaches her rhythm section to get out of the way, to support her and not dictate how the song goes.
WEISS It’s a roomful of people who have seen a lot of artists over the years, but not a lot of people have seen Aretha sitting down at a piano.
KENNEDY I couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth. She got up from the piano, walked downstage, and dropped her fur coat in the middle of the stage.
RITA MORENO, Kennedy Center honoree: The moment she “casually” dropped her massive mink coat onto the stage was one for the ages.
MINOR I was playing bass right behind her. When she dropped that jacket, I almost dropped my bass. It was so in the moment — I don’t think she planned it.
ARETHA FRANKLIN (speaking with vogue.com in 2016) I wasn’t sure about the air factor onstage, and air can mess with the voice from time to time. And I didn’t want to have that problem that evening. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Kennedy Center, and I wanted to have a peerless performance. Once I determined that the air was all right while I was singing, I said, “Let’s get out of this coat! I’m feeling it. Let’s go!”
WEISS Of all the television I’ve done, and there’s been a lot, this was one of the most viral clips. I was in the TV truck, in the loading dock behind the stage, watching the monitors for the 14 cameras. Not only was I seeing what was going on, but I’m seeing reactions in the crowd, and I’m making choices of what’s going to go on the air. There was such electricity in the room — part of it might be because of how moved Carole King was. During that show, a lot of the audience will look to see how the honoree responds. When something like this happens, all your plans go out the window and you’re capturing the live moments: the audience gets up on their feet and the president is wiping a tear from his eye.
TAYLOR She was in excellent form and in excellent voice. She was also funny and wry and with it — I thought she would be with us another 10 years.
MORENO She brought a prodigious talent, musicality, and down stompin’ woman’s sass to all she does.
CICELY TYSON, Kennedy Center honoree She had the most beautiful face. You could see her emotions in her face as well as hear them in her voice. It was no surprise when the audience stood up — you can’t sit and listen to her and not be moved. After she finished, she came off the stage and she had a huge bouquet of flowers. She walked up the aisle and an audience member joked, “Are those for me?” She said, “I’m sorry, they’re for my lady,” and she brought them right to me and put them in my arms.
KENNEDY She was up in the stratosphere with those riffs, but every cell of her being seemed to be in the music. There was nothing else, just her and the song. That’s what we try to do as artists — we try to get to where she was that night.
The hip-hop star addressed the incident on her Queen Radio show: “I could not believe how … we made ourselves look.”
By: Shirley Halperin\Variety
Nicki Minaj took to the airwaves on Monday afternoon to address her fight with Cardi B at a Fashion Week event in New York City on Friday. Speaking on Beats 1’s Queen Radio, which can be heard on Apple Music, Minaj said she found the incident “mortifying and humiliating” especially considering it took place in front of “upper echelon people who have their lives together.”
Responding to the claim that Minaj had made disparaging remarks about Cardi’s newborn daughter, Minaj said, “It’s all lies,” adding, “I would never ridicule anyone’s child. [It’s] so sad for someone to pin that on somebody. … I would never talk about anyone’s child or parenting. … These lies are ridiculous.”
Using her real name (Onika Tanya Maraj), Minaj added: “It’s crazy for me that people always need to make Onika the bad guy. … I was wearing a Vauthier gown off the mother f—in’ runway and I could not believe how humiliating it all felt — how we made ourselves look.”
Addressing Cardi directly, Minaj lambasted: “You came into my f—in culture. I never had to bang a DJ to play my songs. You call black women roaches. Real bitches never attack a woman. You’re angry and you’re sad. This is not funny. Get this woman some f—in help. This woman’s at the highest point in her career and she’s throwing shoes?
Later in the broadcast, the topic of Minaj’s previous feud with Remy Ma came up and the rapper offered that, while she doesn’t always have an opportunity to defend herself, it sometimes gets worked out in her music, or “on wax.”
The star-studded Fashion Week party where the incident took place on Friday was billed as the Harper’s Bazaar Icon bash.
In one of several videos posted to Twitter, Cardi B wearing a red dress, can be seen lunging towards Minaj before throwing a shoe at the rapper as their security teams rush to break it up.
Sources confirmed to Variety that it was, in fact, the two hip-hop artists involved in the melee, which happened just as the red carpet shuttered.
Cardi B was later photographed with a large bruise above her right eye as she left the party. The back of her dress was also torn.
Minaj, who was unharmed in the encounter, was quickly escorted downstairs by Minaj’s security team.
Insiders confirm to Variety that Cardi B ’s bump on her forehead was the result of an elbow from one of Minaj’s security guards.
A lifetime has passed since someone shot JR Ewing on Dallas. If you wanted to talk about it, you could hope someone an AM radio would talk about it. What it if were lesser shows like Knott’s Landing or another nighttime drama… You were out of luck .
Today with the advent of the net via social media you can instantaneously chat about the show. via twitter, or facebook and more.
There is a small industry growing on You Tube where ordinary individuals review their favorite shows.
Reviewing, is a second, third and fifth job for some of the reviewers and the reviews are often longer than the shows themselves. Many of these talented men and women review several shows. One of my favorite reviewers is Roxanne Markham (It’s Rox). Most of her reviews take place in her SUV’ during her lunch hour. Like many reviewers she is passionate, what makes her special is her sense of humor.
By: Brandon Griggs/CNN
R. Kelly is still singing, but in the #MeToo era his voice is getting more and more muffled.
What We Know About R. Kelly’s Two-Decade Trail of Sexual Abuse Accusations
What he’s accused of
- In 2002, he was indicted on child pornography charges for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with an unidentified underage girl. The case went to trial in 2008 and Kelly was acquitted.
- In 2017, a 24-year-old woman alleged she had a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was 16. Kelly denied the accusation and no criminal charges were filed.
- An explosive Buzzfeed article last July claimed the singer was holding a group of adult women against their will as part of what some of their parents said was a “cult.” Kelly would not comment, but his attorney dismissed the “debunked” allegations in an email to Buzzfeed. One of the women later denied publicly that she was being “brainwashed” by Kelly and said “I’m totally fine.”
- And a BBC documentary released in March featured an interview with a woman who claimed to be a former girlfriend of Kelly and described a “sex dungeon” in which the singer forced her and other women to perform sex acts. The BBC says Kelly’s reps declined to comment.
What Kelly says
What happens next
“Slavery was choice”
Kanye has had a mental break. He isn’t TV ready. Last November he was hospitalized and put on a psychiatric hold shortly after a concert in Sacramento where he went on a rant comparing himself to Donald Trump. There is something desperately wrong.
You can actually purchase this hat online. There are “Make Kanye Great Again” Tee shirts.
I love that tweet. ” Make Kanye Black Again”
Kenya is a proud black man.
Kanye West is an American Citizen first and performer second. As a citizen, he is free to join any political party he chooses. However as a citizen and a performer, he risks alienating his fan base.
His support of President Trump is curious. Many years ago Mr West called then President George W. Bush racist, due on his lack of support for the Katrina victims in New Orleans. When President Trump and his father has a long history of discrimination against blacks and other minorities and there lies the outrage.
I agree with Chance the Rapper, when he says “Black people don’t have to be Democrats “ I think some of his fans might forgive Kanye should he chooses to become a Republican.
The outrage is the support of an individual who’s has supported white supremacists, reportedly called African Nations shithole nations and systematically dismantling existing programs that effect LGBT communities and People of Color.
I’ve never been a fan of Kanye West his talent is undeniable, I struggle with his narcissism , much like the narcissism of our President. However while I don’t agree with his admiration of Donald Trump, I admire his courage. A few years ago I admired the courage of the Dixie Chicks. You remember the Dixie Chicks. Google um.
Who knows, Pandora? Kanye West