Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Aretha, Hats and the NAACP in Detroit

May 5, 2009

Aretha Franklin's hat making news again

Compiled by Cassandra Spratling and B.J. Hammerstein
Free Press staff writer and editor of detroit.metromix.com

Aretha Franklin's headgear is making news again.

The singer told a radio reporter that the wide-brimmed pink hat she wore to the NAACP dinner in Detroit on Sunday night was not from Mr Song Millinery, the Detroit store she made famous when she wore one of its hats while singing at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

But Luke Song, milliner and one of the owners of the family business, looked at a newspaper photo of the hat and said, "That's our hat." He then pointed out a similar hat in the store catalog.

"We gave her the hat when she placed the order for the inaugural hat," Song said. "The thing is, she has so many hats she might have not thought it was ours. I'm pretty sure it's all just a misunderstanding."

Song would not respond directly to remarks Franklin made Sunday night to a radio reporter; she told the reporter she believed she should get royalties from the sale of hats like the one she wore at the inauguration.

When asked whether he would consider sharing profits with Franklin, Song said that that was not an appropriate conversation to have with a reporter.

May 1, 2009

Aretha Franklin to play Fox Theatre on July 11

Free Press Pop Music Writer

CORRECTION: an earlier version of this story contained the wrong date for the ticket sales. The correct version is below.

The Queen of Soul is set to take the throne at the Fox Theatre.

Aretha Franklin will play the hometown venue on July 11, theater officials announced today.

Tickets are $45 and $50 and will go on sale Saturday via Ticketmaster and at the Fox box office.

The summer date is one of several U.S. concerts scheduled for the 67-year-old music icon, and is her first hometown music appearance since a gospel revival last June.

Franklin was scheduled to play DTE Energy Music Theatre last August, but canceled two days before the show, fearing high temperatures at the outdoor gig.

This has already been a high-profile year for Franklin, who performed at the January inauguration of President Barack Obama. She’s amid one of the busiest stretches of her career: After several years of sporadic performing, Franklin returned to the road with gusto in 2005, and has since been a fixture on the U.S. touring scene.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jackson: NAACP still has much work ahead

Paul Egan / The Detroit News

Detroit -- November's election of a black president marks a huge stride forward for America but still leaves much important work for the NAACP to complete.

That message was repeated again and again tonight as an estimated 10,000 supporters of the Detroit branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gathered at the Cobo Center for the Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner -- billed as the largest annual sit-down dinner in the nation.

"We are free but not equal and in need of massive restructuring," the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said in his keynote speech to the dinner.

The country has "first-class prisons and second-class schools" and the shift in Detroit's economy away from the Big 3 automakers to three big casinos demonstrates that "the struggle today is to re-industrialize our country," he said during his speech and at a news conference earlier in the day.

Jackson, a civil rights leader who was with the Rev. Martin Luther King when he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988.

He is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an international human rights organization that promotes voter registration, economic development and improved health care among other areas of social change.

Jackson blasted the recent bank bailouts, saying the government should instead bail out cities like Detroit and America's children. He told the crowd the NAACP must now fight for the survival of the auto industry.

"We must fight back and save GM, Ford and Chrysler -- that's our lifeline," he said.

Jackson's failed bids for the presidency "blazed a significant trail as an African-American candidate for president," in the lead-up to President Barack Obama's success last year, said Eric Foster of Urban Consulting LLC in Detroit. "He still has views that need to be considered."

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, acknowledged that many question the relevancy of the organization -- which celebrates its 100th birthday this year -- now that a black man is president.

But Anthony said the NAACP must match the political strides of the last 100 years with economic strides over the next century. He said the unemployment rate for blacks is still more than double that for whites and said studies show certain white employers would prefer to hire a white man with a criminal record than an equally qualified black man with no criminal record.

"As we celebrate our victories, we still are challenged by our unfinished responsibilities," Anthony said.

Fritz Henderson, president and CEO of embattled General Motors Corp., told dinner attendees his company faces huge challenges and "it's not about survival; it's about success."

"Most of us derive our livelihood from the auto industry, directly or indirectly, and we're all in this together," Henderson said.

The dinner honored the Rev. Al Sharpton, singer Aretha Franklin, and the Rev. Edwin Rowe of Detroit for their civil rights accomplishments.

Past keynote speakers have included former President Bill Clinton and Gen. Colin Powell.

pegan@detnews.com (313) 222-2069

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