Aretha Franklin Christmas Party at the Greek Town Casino Hotel in downtown Detroit on December 22, 2012. Franklin was joined by Willie Wilkerson and Judge Damon Keith., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
December 23, 2012
Aretha Franklin brings festive Christmas soiree to Greektown
By SUSAN WHITALL
The Detroit News
Detroit — On one of the busiest downtown Saturday nights lately, as the Lions battled the Atlanta Falcons, Aretha Franklin held her annual Christmas soiree at Greektown's International Banquet Center.
Guests included former Channel 7 anchor Diana Lewis, U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit Judge Damon Keith, Michigan Opera Theater director David DiChiera, Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson and WDIV Channel 4 anchor Carmen Harlan, and members of Franklin's family. Her guitarist son Teddy White ate dinner, then took off for his regular Saturday gig in Plymouth.
After dinner everybody settled in for a roster of entertainment including Motown's Sylvester Potts and the Contours, who performed their Berry Gordy-penned, 1962 smash "Do You Love Me," some blues by Charles Scales and Robert Penn, an impassioned R&B song by Franklin's son Eddie and a Christian rap by youngest son Kecalf.
Kecalf's son Jordan Franklin performed a hip-hop version of his grandmother's hit song "Since You've Been Gone."
The Queen of Soul personally introduced granddaughter Victory Franklin (Kecalf's daughter), whom she is instructing as a vocalist.
"She's coming along very well," Franklin said. "I came down to see her rehearse, and she brought tears to my eyes."
The teenager sang the gospel song, "Take Me to the King," in a winsome, pretty voice.
But it was a 4' 11," seasoned vet, the tiny West Coast blues dynamo Sugar Pie De Santo, 77, flown in by Franklin just for the party, who brought the house down with her athletic, gyrating set.
Dressed in a slinky pink gown slashed high on the leg, De Santo jumped on and off the stage with the ease of a yoga instructor, sang the blues with the same gusto she did in the early '60s, flirting amusingly with the male guests.
"Seventy-seven isn't too old to need a man!" she advised, then jumped into the audience to look for a suitable one to haul up onstage and dance with her.
She rocked through several notable songs, including "In the Basement" (a song she recorded with her friend Etta James).
Franklin's party, and the holiday, is a brief respite before she embarks on some live dates again — in Hammond, Ind. next week and Battle Creek in early January.