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RESPECT: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

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RESPECT: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Friday, May 26—Sunday, May 28, 2023

Friday, May 26—Sunday, May 28, 2023
Orchestra Hall
2 hours

The story of Aretha Franklin is the story of America in the second half of the twentieth century. Her music, her activism, her faith, and her strength are woven into the fabric of our history. Celebrate the singer, the icon, the leader, and the woman with her greatest hits, including “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Natural Woman,” “Think,” and “Amazing Grace.” The DSO is joined by superb vocalists Tamika Lawrence, Coco Smith, and Blaine Krauss.

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Artists

Na’Zir McFadden

conductor

American conductor Na’Zir McFadden is the newly appointed Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

In this position, he’ll work closely with Music Director Jader Bignamini and guest conductors on both the PVS Classical Series and William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. Additionally, he’ll lead pre-concert lectures at Orchestra Hall, and conduct a variety of programs on the Educational Concert Series, Young People’s Family Concert Series, PNC Pops Series, as well as DTE Community Concerts.

To commence with the 2022-23 season, Na’Zir will serve as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Together, they’ll present three programs — exploring the symphonies of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Florence Price.

An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. This upcoming season, McFadden will make appearances with youth ensembles in Salt Lake City and with the Philadelphia All-City Music Festival. In the past, he’s worked with youth ensembles in Chicago, New York City, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

Recent engagements include a recording project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Notes for Peace’ initiative — which featured Hilary Hahn as guest soloist.

McFadden was the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra from 2020 to 2022 working with Music Director Beatrice Jona Affron. He also served as the Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony from 2020 to 2021.

Na’Zir conducted his hometown orchestra – The Philadelphia Orchestra – in their “Pop-Up” series in 2017, meeting their Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin who has been a mentor ever since. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium” in their review of the concert.

Upcoming engagements include a series of commissions with Orchestra 2001 and appearances with the Utah Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Ballet.

Tamika Lawrence

vocalist

Hailing from the Mount Hope neighborhood of the Bronx, Tamika Lawrence began her musical career on Broadway almost 10 years ago. (The Wiz Live! On NBC, Book of Mormon, Come From Away, RENT) She then began to lend her Alt-Rock vocals to movie soundtracks and sang backgrounds for artists including Hugh Jackman, and Idina Menzel. A cross between Jack White and Betty Davis, Tamika began to write her own music and in 2014 released the Album "Ugly" with her the band Tamika & The Slay to critical acclaim. In 2018, Tamika won a Grammy for her work on the Dear Evan Hansen Album and completed her debut solo EP "Two Faced" scheduled for release in 2020. She is currently starring in the Broadway revival of "Caroline, or Change" for the Roundabout Theatre Company.

Coco Smith

vocalist

CoCo is thrilled to be part of Spot-On Entertainment's “RESPECT: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin.” CoCo made their Broadway debut in “The Book of Mormon” and performed the show all over the world (Broadway/ National Tour/International). Since being chosen one of “Broadway’s Rising Stars” in 2015, CoCo has starred in numerous theatrical productions across the country including the off-Broadway revival of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and regional productions of “Oklahoma” (Weston Playhouse), “Sideshow” (Near West Theatre), and "Children of Eden" (Near West Theatre). CoCo was invited to make a return appearance in the 2016 edition of “Broadway’s Rising Stars” at historic Town Hall in the heart of Times Square. CoCo is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and would like to give  special thanks to their vocal coach, Tony James. #99CoCoProblems

Blaine Alden Krauss

vocalist

Blaine Alden Krauss is currently starring in "Hamilton" as the standby for both Hamilton and Burr. He was thrilled to be part of the second season of “Pose” while appearing in “The Cher Show”on Broadway. Prior to that he was seen as ‘Lola’ in “Kinky Boots” shortly after making his Broadway debut in the smash hit "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812." He traveled the world as 'Simba' in "The Lion King" and starred in the Radio City Summer Spectacular. Blaine regularly performs with symphonies around the globe and is a regular performer at Feinstein's/54 Below. His talents led him in 2011 to be a feature performer for the largest Commemoration of 9/11 outside of the U.S at the Trocadero in Paris, France. In 2010 he was selected to be 1 of 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts by the White House and Presidential Scholar Commission. This venture led to having met President Obama and concluded with a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He was selected to be the Feature Vocalist at the 2010 July 4th Celebration at the US National Archives; was a selected participant at the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland. His theatrical credits include Godspell and Spelling Bee at the West Virginia Public Theatre, Evita, Into the Woods, Civil War, Make Me A Song, Chess and Jean Valjean in CCM's Les Miserables. Blaine is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

John Boswell

piano

Pianist John Boswell has served as musical director for Judy Collins, Andy Williams, Bob Newhart, Faith Prince, Scott Coulter, Maude Maggart, Carmen Cusack, Babbie Green, Jason Graae and a host of other fine talents. John played the role of “Moose” in the national tour of Crazy For You and has appeared on The Tonight Show, Today Show, CBS This Morning, Regis And Kathie Lee, General Hospital and was the piano playing hands of Nancy McKeon on the sit-com THE FACTS OF LIFE.  Recent concerts with symphonies have included Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert, BLOCKBUSTER BROADWAY!, Sheena Easton and Scott Coulter: The Spy Who Loved Me and MUSIC OF THE KNIGHTS. John has been heard singing in the shows THREE MEN AND A BABY...GRAND, CINEMA TOAST, BROADWAY TODAY, WISEGUYS and the New York cult hit CASHINO.  Broadway/Off Broadway credits include Crazy For You, The Secret Garden, LIZA! Steppin' Out At Radio City Music Hall,Back To Bacharach And David and The Kathy And Mo Show: Parallel Lives. His monthly concerts in 2017 at The Gardenia in Los Angeles have been crowd pleasers. John has eight CDs of original piano music and a ninth on the way. While a student at UCLA, John received the Frank Sinatra Award for popular instrumentalists.

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