American singer Aretha Franklin left her mark on the music industry with her powerful voice and undeniable love and passion for the stage- a passion that lives on through today’s creatives, and has inspired the upcoming production, Aretha- A Love Letter to the Queen of Soul.
From ‘Respect’ to ‘Natural Women’, the culturally iconic production shares the heartbreak, triumph, longing and love of Aretha’s life through 32 spirited songs. These songs are delivered through 6 multigenerational, powerful performers: Montaigne, Emma Donovan, Thndo, Thandi Phoenix, Ursula Yovich, and Jada Alberts.
The show is a wonderful fusion of storytelling and singing, inviting the audience to explore the sensation that was Aretha Franklin. It also highlights her impact on the musical landscape while delving into the experience of what it was like to be a person of colour.
Ethereal contemporary inspiration, Montaigne spoke to SheSociety about their role in the show, in particular what it means to them to bring such a powerful artist to life on stage. They said,
“It’s very exciting. I haven’t really had an experience like this before, and I don’t really know what it’s going to feel like on stage but I’m sure once I get to the Opera House stage and all of it, it’s gonna feel very unreal and special and awesome.”
Aretha’s music has secured its place in music history, becoming timeless classics that those young and old know. Her captivating voice and love for music earned her many accolades, including 18 Grammy awards, over 75 million records sold, and the number one place on Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Singers of All Time list’. Artha ultimately connected authentically with her audience in their heartbreak and pain, as well as their triumphs, and this show beautifully displays this. Montaigne touched on the importance of celebrating women’s contributions in music, such as Aretha’s.
“The way in which media and culture is consumed nowadays is so varied and prolific, it’s very easy to have things get lost in the stream of content and contribution, I think, especially legacy music. Having shows like this keeps musical heritage relevant and reminds us of where we all came from as artists; and I think that’s very important. Especially for women, because often they get erased from history.” they said.
Montaigne is one of Australia’s most individual and dynamic voices, evolving from a young indie artist to one of our most celebrated singer/songwriters and unique art pop musicians. They have a remarkable list of personal achievements bringing an extreme vocal power to the stage. They discussed how this project compares to other projects they’ve taken part in so far, saying,
“I was very flattered [when they were asked to join the show] that they thought I’d be able to sing her songs. I’m not a singer like Aretha, I’m not a soul singer and I do not have the chops of a soul singer or gospel singer. I don’t do runs very much as a singer, which is pretty integral to sing that kind of thing.”
“So, I don’t know, it was kind of interesting. It’s a cool opportunity for me to practice singing like that a bit more, which I haven’t really had.”
Montaigne continued on to talk about the fun challenge of taking on Aretha’s work at this stage in their career, saying,
“I haven’t often done much sort of cover stuff in my career, it’s happened a couple of times but on a much smaller scale. It is new but I look forward to the challenge of it!”
This incredible night of entertainment promises to resonate with you long after the last high note has been hit, charting Aretha’s incredible life of ups and downs. Montaigne says how they hope audiences will be left feeling inspired by the show,
“I think if nothing else, what gospel and soul music offers to the world is a sense of catharsis, and maybe joy, and maybe emotional release. It is a very essential way of expressing yourself… and I imagine audiences will meet the power of the voices of the people in the cast and the songs and yeah, hopefully, achieve some kind of catharsis within themselves and walk away feeling inspired.” they said.
Audiences can catch Montaigne and the rest of the incredible cast tell the amazing story of Aretha Franklin in a limited six shows across some of Australia’s capital cities. Here are the show details:
Sydney Opera House
17 & 18 June 2023
20 & 21 June 2023
2 July 2023
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