Could I or couldn't I, would she or wouldn't she? These were the questions running through my mind throughout the Queen of Soul's breathtaking performance for the N'Digo Foundation Gala last night at Arie Crown Theater. I was dying for an interview with Aretha Franklin. Who in the world wouldn't be? I knew it was near impossible and had been told so a dozen times. But, being an only child, the word "no" doesn't fit into my vocabulary very well so I kept inquiring. First, to a PR person who told me we could only film the first minute or so of Aretha's sold-out show and then to another PR person who is a friend of mine. She told me they never knew what sort of mood the Queen is in and whether or not she would see anyone at all after the show was anyone's guess. Still, I didn't give up and kept sending email pleas. Finally, Hermene told me to "be cool" and we will do what we can. I just love this woman. Hermene Hartman is a force to be reckoned with and the creator of N'Digo Magazine, which by the way, will be sold in Walgreen's all across our area come August for only $1. She founded the N'Digo Foundation in 1995 which provides merit-based college scholarships to worthy students and, to date, the foundation has awarded over 280! Her contributions to her community and Chicago are astounding. She is beloved. Period.
Finally, I got my cameraman okayed to film but still no word on Aretha....and so I sat in my seat quietly while my insides were raging. My poor husband, I have no idea how he puts up with me....one minute, I'm on cloud nine and the next minute a rejection will send me into wild despair. It's hell being as competitive as I am but what can I do? As Popeye says, "I y'am what I y'am!"
And then the clouds parted and there standing before me was this darling PR girl and she was saying something to me.....through a haze, I made out the words, "I will be back to get you after the show's over. Be ready to run." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I was practically wearing tennis shoes I was so ready!
The Queen did a long, astounding set that had fans dancing in the aisles....where does she get her energy!??!! She is the recipient of 17 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Living Legend Award), was the first female to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I don't have enough space to list all of her honors. She celebrated her 70th birthday with the release of her latest album "Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin." Later this year, she will collaborate with Clive Davis on another CD.
The show was winding down now. The Queen had just brought out the student choir to end the performance and the PR girl had us all waiting at the exit to make a run for it when she went backstage....but wait! The show couldn't end without "R-E-S-P-E-C-T", so now we're just standing there and she's belting out her iconic song.....I'm thinking to myself, how in the world will this legend agree to an interview after expending all of this energy on the stage? My hopes were dimming even with the green light. I knew things could change on a dime in circumstances like this......
She finished to a thunderous standing ovation. She told Chicago she loved us and off she went and off we went, my Watch312 cameraman, my husband and my Chicago Tribune photographer. Down and around and through numerous security checks until, finally, we were backstage outside her dressing room. All in all, there were maybe a dozen or so people. Aretha's security team asked Hermene if all of these people expected to see the Queen and she replied, "Only Candace....." These words will ring in my ear into perpetuity......
Stay tuned for my interview coming soon on Watch312.com and for Chicago Tribune Candid Candace coverage coming on July 15th in the Sunday Magazine.....:-) And for extended coverage, be sure to check out my website here!
Filed under: celebrity/nightlife
Tags: Alonzo Stallings, Aretha Franklin, Arie Crown Theater, Candid Candace, celebrity news, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Chuck Jordan, Clive Davis, Gospel Hall of Fame, gospel music, Hermene Hartman, Jesse Jackson, N'Digo Foundation, N'Digo Gala, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Queen of Soul, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul music, student scholarships, Watch312, Watch312.com