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Aretha Franklin bings music, advice to "American Idol" at the Fillmore Detroit
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- If "American Idol" is going to be in the Motor City, who better to welcome it than Detroit's own Queen of Soul.

Aretha Franklin did the honors for "Idol" on Wednesday, March 4, opening the taping of the evening's episode with a powerhouse rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" from Franklin's 2014 album "Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics" at the Fillmore Detroit. "It was absolutely fabulous," the Bloomfield Hills resident said following the performance and an exuberant Fillmore audience response. "Did you hear that? Those kids have some lungs. They sound like Yankee Stadium, or Tiger Stadium."

Franklin's appearance got "Idol's" two-show stand off to a charged start -- appropriate considering that these are the episodes of the Fox TV show that reveal the final 16 contestants from the field of 24 that initially came to Detroit on Feb. 19. The show returns to Los Angeles next week, with the winner slated to be crowned on May 13.

Singing was only one part of Franklin's duties with the "Idol" hopefuls this week. They also had an audience with the Queen, during which she imparted advice and wisdom from her more than five decades in the music business.

"I said, 'Well, you all are sitting where I was sitting 50 years ago," Franklin said. "They're all very eager and very, very bright kids. I think the most important advice I gave them was being responsible in this business," she said. "You have to be responsible. If you get a reputation for being a no-show, you're out. You can be out of it before you get in it.

"That was one of the main things I stressed to them, just being responsible. If you make a commitment, keep it."

As singers, Franklin said she advised the "Idol" hopefuls to "just be themselves more than anything else." And she also gave them a taste of Detroit's French roots and rich musical history.

"I just told them that other thanb eing the Motor City and the place where cars and stars and fabulous people live that Motown, Detroit is a rallying city, and that's one of the things I like most about Detroit," Franklin said. "When people are down and out, Detroit will rally."

Those words were certainly appreciated by the "Idol" hopefuls. "She talked to us a lot about the music industry in general -- a lot about taking care of your finances, taking care of yourself and just becoming the artist you want to be," said Nick Fradiani. "It was a real helpful talk. She went above and beyond what she had to do."

Fifteen-year-old Daniel Seavey added that, "A lot of people who give you advice tend to go straight to the music of it. I've already taken in a lot of that, so to have someone like her give us the logistics of it all and how the background stuff works, that helped me a lot."

As for herself, Franklin said she's busy mentoring a grandson and granddaughter who are fledgling artists, and she's also starting to plot her next album with "Diva Classics" executive producer and longtime collaborator Clive Davis. "Clive and I are going to get together on what the new CD is going to be probably in the next month or so, and I'm looking forward to it," she said.



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