This story comes to LEO through our partnership with Audience Magazine: Your Performing Arts Connection.
Capathia Jenkins isn’t impersonating Aretha Franklin. She’s singing her songs.
“It’s an extraordinary catalog of music she left the world,” says Jenkins, who will sing from the songbook of the famous Queen of Soul in a Louisville Orchestra Pops concert February 25 in Whitney Hall.
“So you, the audience, we are sort of taking you on this journey,” Jenkins explained in an interview before a recent performance of the show Aretha: A Tribute with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “I will reach back to her Amazing Grace album, which is Aretha’s roots in the church. Then your beautiful orchestra will play some songs right from her catalog, but you will hear it in instrumental form, and it really is a satisfying feeling, a feel-good kind of nostalgia of where you were when you first heard this music.”
And Jenkins knows right where she was when she first heard Aretha Franklin singing “Chain of Fools,” “A Natural Woman,” and “Think.”
“You know, I have older siblings, and music was always playing in the house – as far back as I can remember, maybe like three years old. Maybe younger. I would have a hairbrush as a mike, singing in the mirror, singing along,” recalls Jenkins. “Aretha was very much like me, growing up in her father’s church, singing. It wasn’t my father’s church, but I certainly grew up in the church, singing in the choir and all that. Maybe my mom was playing her albums, or my siblings playing and singing ‘Respect’ and ‘Chain of Fools.’ ”
So she’s got the hits in her head, and doesn’t need a costumed impersonation act or an imitating voice to deliver the soul.
“Capathia is a fabulous young singer, and it’s a terrific show,” says Louisville Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt. “And she’s got another singer with her named Darryl Jovan Williams who accompanies Capathia in some songs, and sings some on his own.”
“We are celebrating all things Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, right?” says Jenkins. “Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, these were friends and their songs are part of her world.”
“Little known fact,” adds Jenkins. “You know Otis Redding wrote ‘Respect.’ It was his song that she took. But after hearing her version, he was, like, ‘Oh. Well, that’s her song now.’ ”
To purchase tickets, visit louisvilleorchestra.org.