(New York, NY – March 27, 2012) — Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, celebrated her 70th birthday in royal style on Saturday, March 24, in New York City. About 80 friends and colleagues gathered at The Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan for the celebration, which included a four course meal and outstanding entertainment.
The guest list spanned the worlds of entertainment, publishing, media, business, and academia, and included: music mogul Clive Davis, Diane Sawyer, Rev. Al Sharpton, opera mega star Kathleen Battle, author and professor of sociology Michael Eric Dyson, BET President and CEO Debra Lee, ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks, entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan, Tony Award-winning choreographer George Faison, Harlem musical theater great Vy Higginsen, music great Nona Hendryx, and numerous others.
The guests dined on selections from a menu that included: smoked salmon and caviar, chilled snow crab claws, lobster bisque, French onion soup, lobster ravioli, jumbo lump crab cakes, crabmeat stuffed fillet of sole, sautéed Dover sole, filet mignon, grilled vegetable napoleon, pear almond cake, lemon cake, triple chocolate mousse, and New York cheese cake.
The evening’s entertainment included a phenomenal jazz performance by the Kris Bowers Trio, featuring Jose James. The group is led by 22-year-old Kris Bowers, the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Then there were two superb dance numbers directed by George Faison, which were performed to songs that embodied the theme of the celebration – “The Summer of 42” and “Somewhere Lost in Time.”
After an evening of celebrating, Franklin spent her actual birthday, March 25, relaxing. The ageless music icon has a busy year ahead of her, including a special performance at the ESSENCE Music Festival on July 8th in New Orleans.