Aretha at the Jorgensen: The upcoming tribute to the ‘Queen of Soul’ 

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In one of the first events of the Spring 2022 semester, University of Connecticut’s very own Jorgensen Center of the Performing Arts is hosting “A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul” on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.  

Jorgensen will be welcoming two acclaimed performers: vocalist and keyboardist Damien Sneed and the multi-Grammy award nominated Valerie Simpson. Simpson is known for her work writing in Motown with her late husband, Nickolas Ashford, hits such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” 

The Daily Campus was lucky enough to speak with Jorgensen director Rodney Rock and performer Sneed via email. 

“‘A [T]ribute to Aretha Franklin’ is going to be an amazing experience,” Rock exclaimed. “Students will be part of a joyful celebration of one of the most important and influential figures in the history of American popular music!  As one of the most successful recording artists of the 20th century, she was consistently ranked as one of the top “100 Greatest Artists of all Time” by Rolling Stone Magazine.  She recorded so many of the most iconic songs of the past 50 years and this show will feature one hit after another.” 

“I hope to show audiences attending my Aretha Franklin Tribute tour the fact that she was not only a prolific, talented artist but she was also an incredible human being who used her platform to help others and promote a higher level of thinking in the world,” said Sneed. 

Franklin has been highly present in popular culture recently, with the release of her concert film “Amazing Grace” in 2018 and Jennifer Hudson’s portrayal of her in 2021 film “Respect.” Both of these projects earned high praise from critics and from audiences. 

“Aretha Franklin’s musical voice has persisted in popular culture because she was way ahead of her time,” explained Sneed. “Her ability to accurately and legitimately express herself in various styles and genres gave her an edge that others in from her time did not have.” 

“Franklin was a classic,” said Rock. “With that utterly amazing voice and style, she recorded a bunch of really great songs.  She came to the forefront of American popular music during one of the most important and critical periods in American history and the development of popular music.  Her music reached millions and has been woven into the very fabric of our lives.  Old or young, I think so many still relate [to] and appreciate her music.  It’s going to be part of who we are for a very long time.” 

For tickets to “A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul” on Saturday, Feb. 19, please visit jorgensen.uconn.edu for more information. 

Additionally, as is for all Jorgensen events, a limited number of free rush tickets for UConn students can be acquired by emailing the box office (jorgensen.tickets@uconn.edu) between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. the morning of Feb. 19. 

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