DSO celebrates Aretha Franklin with four concerts on its PNC Pops Series, May 26-28

Assistant Conductor Na’Zir McFadden conducts DSO in Franklin’s greatest hits performed by vocalists Tamika Lawrence, Shaleah Adkisson, and Blaine Alden Krauss, and pianist John Boswell

2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the Queen of Soul’s first and only appearance with the DSO, and the DSO celebrates the occasion with weekend of activities including exhibit of never-before-seen photos of Franklin in Detroit by nationally recognized photojournalist Linda Soloman; a 1956 pink Cadillac on display; book giveaway; specialty cocktail; and photo opportunities

Tickets on sale now at dso.org

Detroit, (May 8, 2023) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will celebrate the Queen of Soul with Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin on May 26-28 at Orchestra Hall. Part of the PNC Pops Series, the program will be conducted by DSO Assistant Conductor Na’Zir McFadden (in his series debut) and feature acclaimed vocalists Tamika Lawrence, Shaleah Adkisson, and Blaine Alden Krauss, and pianist John Boswell performing Franklin’s greatest hits including Respect, Chain of Fools, Natural Woman, Think, and Amazing Grace.

With the concerts, the DSO will host specially curated activities throughout The Max including an exclusive photo exhibit, a pink Cadillac on display, book giveaway, specialty cocktail, and photo opportunities.

The DSO has partnered with Linda Solomon, a nationally recognized, award winning photojournalist and member of the prestigious Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, to present a photo display of more than 30 photos of Franklin, taken surrounding her November 1998 performances with the DSO. The exhibit, on display during the concerts throughout the William Davidson Atrium, celebrates the 25th anniversary of Franklin's appearances and behind-the-scenes rehearsal photography, plus images of Franklin around Detroit, some never before seen.

Popularized by Franklin’s 1985 single, Freeway of Love, an iconic 1956 pink Cadillac, one of more than 100 used during Franklin’s funeral procession in 2018, will be on display in the William Davidson Atrium. The DSO thanks Stuart Popp for loaning the vehicle. Audiences at the concerts will enjoy a specialty “Pink Cadillac” cocktail and photo opportunities.

The DSO will also hold a book giveaway contest (for concert ticketholders) of Solomon’s latest book, The Queen Next Door, which chronicles historical events in Franklin’s career along with intimate and cherished family moments in her beloved hometown.

The orchestra previously celebrated the life and career of Franklin in January 2023 with the world premiere of RESPECT in Concert, the major motion film with music performed live by the DSO.

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. The DSO invites audiences to celebrate the singer, the icon, the leader, and the woman during this unforgettable weekend at The Max.

Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin will take place on Friday, May 26 at 10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, May 27 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 28 at 3 p.m. at Orchestra Hall.

Tickets for these performances start at $19 and can be purchased at dso.org or by calling the Box Office at 313.576.5111, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The title sponsor of the DSO’s PNC Pops Series is PNC Bank.

2022-2023 SEASON DSO SAFETY POLICIES: The DSO no longer requires audiences to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend performances. Masks are optional although strongly recommended at DSO performances, particularly when Wayne County and surrounding communities are in the high or "red" category as defined by the CDC. The DSO asks audience members to do their part to create a safe environment for everyone and encourages those who are not feeling well to stay home.


PNC Pops Series
Friday, May 26 at 10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 27 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 28 at 3 p.m.
Orchestra Hall
Na'Zir McFadden, conductor
Tamika Lawrence, vocalist
Shaleah Adkisson, vocalist
Blaine Alden Krauss, vocalist
John Boswell, piano
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, Shaleah Adkisson, and Blaine Krauss.


About Na’Zir McFadden
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 works closely with Music Director Jader Bignamini and guest conductors on both the PVS Classical Series and William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. Additionally, he leads pre-concert lectures at Orchestra Hall, and conducts a variety of programs on the Educational Concert Series, Young People’s Family Concert Series, PNC Pops Series, as well as DTE Community Concerts. Also commencing with the 2022-2023 season, McFadden serves as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra.

An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. This season, McFadden makes appearances with youth ensembles in Salt Lake City and with the Philadelphia All-City Music Festival. In the past, he has 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.

McFadden 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 and the Philadelphia Ballet.

About Tamika Lawrence
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, and 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, Lawrence 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, Lawrence won a Grammy Award for her work on the Dear Evan Hansen album and completed her debut solo EP Two Faced which released in 2020. She is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Caroline, or Change for the Roundabout Theatre Company.

About Shaleah Adkisson
Shaleah Adkisson has performed on Broadway and on tour in Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and off-Broadway in the revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent. Her many regional theater credits include Jubilee (Arena Stage), Clybourne Park, Avenue Q (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), The Hot Mikado, Beehive: The 60's Musical, Ain't Misbehavin’ (Broward Stage Door Theatre), Grease, Nunsense (Murry’s Dinner Playhouse), and Children of Eden (Arkansas Repertory Theatre). Adkisson regularly performs in New York City and on tour with Soul Picnic Productions (Back to the Garden and August 1969: A Tribute to the Women of Woodstock). Visit shaleahadkisson.com for more.

About Blaine Alden Krauss
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. Krauss 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 one of twenty 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 DC. He was selected to be the Feature Vocalist at the 2010 July 4th Celebration at the US National Archives and 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. Krauss is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

About John Boswell
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. Boswell 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. Boswell has been heard singing in the shows Three Men and A Baby, Grant, 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. Boswell has eight CDs of original piano music and a ninth on the way. While a student at UCLA, Boswell received the Frank Sinatra Award for popular instrumentalists.

About the DSO
The acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while Oscar-nominated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair.

Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features PVS Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings.

A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a live radio broadcast of a concert and continues today with the groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series of free webcasts, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.