Under the glow of disco ball lights twinkling on the ceiling, many people didn’t stay in their seats when Aretha Franklin took to the stage in Sanford Field House on March 5. Franklin and her orchestra, part of the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, pulled in a crowd of more than 4,100 for a special weekend celebrating the performing arts at Colgate.
The Colgate Chamber Singers, backed up by a student and faculty band, warmed up the crowd with lively renditions of Motown, Stevie Wonder, and Jackson Five tunes.
Then, when Franklin opened with her 1987 hit (with George Michael) “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” both longtime fans and new ones were on their feet, bopping at their seats or dancing in the aisles. During the performance, Franklin delivered favorites from throughout her career, like “Think,” “Ain’t No Way,” and “Freeway of Love.” She also belted out covers from her new album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, including “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “People” (Barbra Streisand), and she paid tribute to Natalie Cole with “Inseparable.” Franklin even tickled the ivories during a soulful rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon and Garfunkel).
And when it came to her signature tune, the Queen of Soul didn’t disappoint, pulling out “Respect” as her encore.
Over the weekend, more than 1,000 alumni and parents came to campus to steep themselves in a smorgasbord of performing arts. Events included University Theater’s production of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue; a dance performance featuring student groups; a lecture/demonstration on jazz and the Academy Award-winning documentary Round Midnight presented by saxophonist Glenn Cashman; and a Colgate Chamber Players recital featuring works by Mozart, Moszkowski, and more. Images below.