PROM 47: ARETHA FRANKLIN – QUEEN OF SOUL | London, Royal Albert Hall

Aretha Franklin, “the Queen of Soul“, died in four years ago almost to the day. Beloved as a singer, her music also exemplifies the lush, orchestral arrangements from that era, and that’s where the new Jules Buckley Orchestra steps in. Though Jules Buckley has been a main attraction of the BBC Proms for several years, his hand-picked rhythm section and symphony-sized orchestra is truly world-class.

American singer Sheléa is more than a match for Franklin’s iconic back catalogue, with indestructible chops and amazing riffs. Like Franklin, Sheléa is also a pianist, ably accompanying herself for “Amazing Grace” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. Plenty of time was also given over to Franklin as composer, featuring her self-penned songs like “Day Dreaming” and “Rock Steady”.

But by no means was she the only vocalist: the Gospel choir (led by Vula Malinga) shone in the backing vocals that are embedded in our collective consciousness, like “Chain of Fools” and “Think”.

Franklin’s music is often associated with the so-called “wall of sound” (Phil Spector was even a co-writer on “Spanish Harlem”). The Jules Buckley Orchestra delivered, with everything louder than everything else, including our own deafening shouts and cheers. However, this did mean the strings were drowned out on occasion: we saw them tremoloing and trilling, but we couldn’t always hear them. Hopefully these minor sound issues will be resolved prior to the television broadcast.

Tickets for all 72 Proms are available from just £7.12 on the BBC Proms 2022 website.

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