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"Queen of Soul" plus "Fashion on Ice" makes
for a night of soulful gusto and glamour

Aretha Franklin
Sears Centre
Hoffman Estates, IL
Sepember 24, 2011
Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin

Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

The idea of combining a mini concert, fashion show and ice skating spectacle in a single event may seem a little on the random side, but given its track record as part of the 2011-2012 Pandora NBC Skating Series, the latest installment starring Aretha Franklin worked like a charm. Perhaps it's because of her timeless tunes that lend themselves to the elegance of skating and the chic styles of new garments by Betsey Johnson and Giles Mendel (of J. Mendel) or maybe it was the variety show nature of the entire event, which could simultaneously appeal to music, fashion and sports fans alike.

In any case, the "Queen of Soul" was a top attraction as fans who bought two tickets were mailed a free copy of her new CD A Woman Falling Out of Love. Though the Detroit diva and her three backing vocalists would eventually get to a couple top hits, she first warmed up her well preserved pipes with new cuts like "U Can't See Me," "Theme From a Summer Place" and "How Long I've Been Waiting," all of which adapted contemporary jazz and R&B arrangements that found her back atop the throne.

Throughout the two-and-a-half hour occasion, the skaters also demonstrated their complicated chorography to all of the above and many of today's top 40 tunes, while sporting equally colorful costumes. Olympic and National medalists like Sarah Hughes, Johnny Weir, Jeremy Abbott, Ryan Bradley, Alissa Czisny, Mary Beth Marley, Rockne Brubaker, Sasha Cohen and Joannie Rochette, plus world ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, offered plenty of jaw dropping turns and twirls to the taped soundtrack of Lady Gaga, Adele, Aerosmith and Plain White T's, amongst others.

Though their athletic prowess was undeniable, Franklin's reemergence at the end of the evening served up the most satisfaction thanks to a handful of affirmations like "Chain of Fools" and "Respect" that are nothing short of all out classics. As she belted out the latter's triumphant chorus of "sock it to me" with the audience's full participation, the entire cast took a bow capping off a gusto-filled night of glamour.

"Fashion On Ice" starring Aretha Franklin airs Sunday, Nov. 13 on NBC from 4-6p.m. Eastern with additional details available at

Related articles:

Aretha Franklin - Concert review - Chicago, IL May 2011
Aretha Franklin - Concert review - Chicago, IL Dec. 2003
Aretha Franklin - Concert review - Chicago, IL Dec. 2000

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