Hancher will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin with a multi-artist tribute performance

Damien Sneed, Valerie Simpson and Karen Clark Sheard will visit Hancher this Friday with their musical performance designed to honor the Queen of Soul, who passed away in 2018. Hancher hosted Aretha Franklin in 2004 in a sold-out performance.


Almost two decades ago, Aretha Franklin performed at the Hancher Auditorium to a sold-out theater. One of the most prolific singers in history, the Queen of Soul will return to Hancher’s spirit through a tribute concert performed by her mentee Damien Sneed, singer Valerie Simpson and Grammy-winning artist Karen Clark Sheard .

Franklin’s career spanned six decades, during which she won 18 Grammy Awards and became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin was also a hard-hitting civil rights activist and was good friends with Martin Luther King Jr. One of his most famous songs, “Respect, was an anthem for the civil rights movement and gender equality.

Tribute to Aretha Franklin: the queen of soul, which will be presented this Thursday at Hancher, is the result of Sneed’s mission to create a multimedia tribute show honoring Franklin and his legendary career.

The tribute will be particularly personal as Sneed toured with Franklin as an organist and developed a close relationship with the soul legend. Hancher executive director Chuck Swanson noted that Sneed even worked as musical director for Franklin’s funeral in 2018.

According to Hancher’s website, Sneed will bring Franklin’s “mighty spirit” to Hancher through his tribute performance.

Rob Cline, director of marketing and communications at Hancher Auditorium, recalled his memories of Franklin’s performance.

“We featured Aretha Franklin at the original Hancher premises in a sold-out concert, and it was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen on our stage,” Cline said.

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Swanson recalled that when he paid Franklin for his gig, he hand-delivered a cash portion.

“She grabbed the money and put it in a purse, and I’ve heard people talk about her purse before,” Swanson said. “That’s the funniest thing, she put that purse on stage under the piano so she could look at that purse.”

Sneed compiled a setlist including “Respect”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Natural Woman”, among other infamous hits. Sneed will play the piano and sing during the performance.

Singer Valerie Simpson will also perform part of the tribute. Simpson was previously one half of the singer-songwriter duo known as Ashford and Simpson.

Gospel singer Clark-Sheard will also perform some of Franklin’s music and used her multi-octave voice to become a four-time Grammy Award-winning musician and songwriter.

Swanson ultimately noted that the event would be “unforgettable” because Franklin “gave everyone hope”, and he said he believed Hancher’s event would foster a similar effect.

“It’s a [performance] I was looking forward to the whole season,” Swanson said.

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