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Michael McDonald offers double shot of Aretha Franklin at Sound Board

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- Michael McDonald had plenty of his own hits to play on Wednesday night, Aug. 15, at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino.

But somebody else, and their music, who was top of mind for the Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan veteran.

McDonald -- who dueted with Aretha Franklin on her 1992 single "Ever Changing Times" -- altered his regular playlist to pay tribute to the ailing music icon not once but twice during his 90-minute show. He dedicated a solo rendition of her 1968 song "Ain't No Way," which was written by Franklin's sister Carolyn Franklin, "to Motown's very own Queen of Soul tonight. Please keep her in your thoughts and in your prayers." After his performance he intoned, "Thank you, Aretha Franklin."

McDonald returned to the Franklin canon at the start of his encore with a full-band rendition of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man." "Once again, keep her in your soul and your prayers," McDonald told the Detroit crowd at the end of the song.

McDonald joined a growing list of artists paying tribute to Franklin in her home town -- including Beyonce and Jay-Z during their show Monday night, Aug. 13, at Ford Field, and Stevie Wonder, who came to Detroit on Tuesday, Aug. 15, to visit Franklin and stopped in at McDonald's afternoon sound check before leaving town on Wednesday.

Franklin remains in hospice care at one of her homes in the Detroit area, reportedly surrounded by friends and family. Her nephew Tim Franklin told People magazine that she's been "alert, laughing and teasing" with visitors despite her dire condition, which has drawn worldwide attention.

The New Bethel Baptist Church, where she was raised and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was pastor, held a prayer vigil for her early on Wednesday morning.

Franklin wasn't the only Motown hero on McDonald's radar on Wednesday. Following "Do Right Woman..." he and his band played Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," a song he introduced as "a prayer for peace" and noted that "like so many great songs, it's become more relevant over the years." He also told the Sound Board crowd to "remember to pray for peace, and hopefully the next time we meet it'll be in a more peaceful world."

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