On Friday (May 17), a cloudy day in Detroit, what was formerly Chene Park officially became the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.
Although the sky was cloudy, the spirits of those in attendance for the dedication of the venue were bright.
Bill Moss & Third New Hope band covered some of Franklin’s hits like “Say A Little Prayer” and “Freeway of Love” while Franklin’s family members, loved ones, and onlookers awaited the unveiling of The Aretha.
Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, Franklin’s son, Kecalf Franklin, President of the Detroit City Council, Brenda Jones, and a host of Franklin’s family were in attendance.
“It means a lot, not just to us as a family and business but to the community of Detroit. She was the queen. She stayed in Detroit, represented Detroit, and raised a family in Detroit,” said Sulaiman Mausi, general manager of the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.
“And to be memorialized in a venue of this size and statue means a lot to me personally and to all of Detroit. It’s a beautiful day. It’s a great day, and an exciting opportunity, and we’re excited for the future of the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, and so we’re happy.”
Several attendees of the historical event wore various t-shirts with the Queen of Soul’s face on it. People danced and sang along to Franklin’s hits while sipping the mimosas that were served alongside spinach quiche, chicken and waffles, and smoked salmon crostinis.
An utterly elated crowd gathered around the small stage that sat in front of the new marquee of The Aretha, while awaiting Mayor Duggan, Kecalf, and Shahida Mausi, president of The Right Productions Inc (the company that manages the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre) to take the stage.
When Mayor Duggan got on stage and took the mic, he shared the same enthusiasm as Sulaiman.
“It was a decision we made as a team after consulting with the Franklin family and after consulting with Shahida, and talking to every single member of city council who enthusiastically supported naming this facility the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre. I’m so glad we’re here today, ” said Mayor Duggan.
Mayor Duggan spoke of the one and only time that Franklin graced the stage of what was then Chene Park.
“You know the history. August 22, 2015, the most memorable concert that ever occurred here was Aretha Franklin, opened by the Isley Brothers and she went on well past midnight ’til she finished in the roar of the crowd in R-E-S-P-E-C-T. She loved this facility,” Mayor Duggan recalled.
“I know that Aretha is looking down on us when I look at the ground and at the theatre,” Detroit City Council President, Brenda Jones said. “This is one of the best venues that you can come hear entertainment and see the entertainers…I thank God that Aretha left us her voice, her sound, her perch, and now The Aretha.”
The venue’s “Summer Weekends” series will include artists like Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Bone Thugs-n -Harmony, Maxwell, and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Take a look at footage and photos of the event below.