Coventry singer Letitia George pays Respect to Aretha

Posted on 9 April 2019

There are few singers who could hope to do justice to the astonishing voice and energy of a talent like Aretha Franklin, but the people of Coventry are lucky enough to count one of them amongst their number.

Best known across the UK for her appearance in Series 4 of The Voice in 2015, where she reached the knock-out rounds as a member of Team Ricky, soul singer Letitia George may be more familiar to local folks from her regular BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio show The C Word, which explores the issues affecting the region’s young people.

This spring, however, she’s back to wowing audiences with her own powerhouse vocals, paying tribute to the legendary Queen of Soul in Respect to Aretha, a stunning concert performance heading to the Belgrade Theatre for one night only on Saturday 4 May.

Ahead of the show, lifelong Aretha fan Letitia told us a bit about what to expect.

How did the show get started?

I’ve talked about wanting to tribute to Aretha for a few years. I initially planned to do a solo show but decided I couldn’t possibly do something this special without my boys. We were approached by Sweeney Entertainments who asked us to work with them, and so it began.

The show has been completely built up from scratch. It’s new and fresh and we created it ourselves. We’re very proud. Respect to Aretha was born in October 2018.

Respect to Aretha

How do you prepare for your performances?

There’s so much involved in building a show like this. Firstly, I have had to train myself vocally. Aretha had a very big range, and although I do as well, I have had to work on extending the top end of my voice. I’m not just doing a tribute to any old star – this is the queen of soul and I want to get it right. It’s pressure but it’s going to be worth it.

In terms of putting on the show, I want it to be so aesthetically pleasing to people. I don’t want it to be the band and myself just singing through the songs. We want to put on a show and really give the audience something to shout about. Getting the audience involved is very important to me!

What can the audience expect from Respect to Aretha?

I perform as myself. My tribute to Aretha is very much that. Nobody can do Aretha like she could. Some part of me thinks I’m crazy to try but I just want people to come to the show and feel like they leave with a little part of her. Although I perform each song as Aretha, I’m not trying to be Aretha Franklin. I just want to do her proud.

If you’re coming to the show expecting to see someone who looks, sounds and acts like Aretha Franklin, you’re not going find it. In fact, you won’t find that anywhere. But if you want to come to a show that celebrates the life of Aretha and helps you get a little taste of the love and passion she had for music, then look no further. We want to tell you a story, share with you as fans ourselves, and indulge in who is most simply, one of the greatest artists to ever walk this earth. If you’re looking for some real honest heart and soul performances to pay respect to a queen then Respect to Aretha is the show for you.
Tell us a little more about the rest of the band and how you all got together.

We are a seven-piece band. I’ve been performing with the musicians for many years now and I couldn’t think of any other group of people I would rather do this with. They’re my musical family.

Respect to Aretha

Andre [MD/Keys] is a fantastic keys player and an all-round great guy. I call him my partner in rhyme – there aren’t many projects we don’t work on together. He’s my right-hand man and a good friend. Wayne’s [Bass] talents are just incredible. This guy plays bass like he’s been playing it since he was born. Wayne is a seasoned musician and really knows how to bring the groove. He’s also a loved and long-standing friend of mine.

Ali [Guitar] is a magician. This guy really knows how to play! There’s no genre he can’t get down to. He is a showman and we can expect great things from him during the tour. Ali is always top of my ‘go to’ list. Boneto [Drums] is a cheeky chap who gives me life, always bringing laughter to the team. A gig without Bunny is just never the same. He is such a good guy and constantly brings a great vibe and balance to the team. Nothing is ever a problem for this dedicated drummer!

Jamila [Backing Vocals 1] is without a shadow of a doubt the sweetest lady you will ever meet in your lifetime. She has smooth, sultry tones to her voice and brings a great sound in harmonies. Singing with J is always a joy. Geniveve [Backing Vocals 2] is a queen with serious talent! My girl can singggg! Gen is such a blast to work with and I can’t wait to be on tour with her. Her voice just blends so sweetly with the rest of us gals. You’re really in for a treat!

What is your favourite song that you perform?

Natural Woman is my all-time favourite Aretha song. It just touches my soul.

What do you love most about the show?

The music. That’s what we’re here for right?

The greatest thing about performing is singing a song and people singing it back to you. In the words of Dave Grohl, “You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back to you for 85,000 different reasons.” Now that is one of the best things about each and every performance.
Why do you think now is the right time to be touring this show?

The thing is, with the passing of Aretha, when really is the right time? I hope that by going on tour next year we can bring comfort to each and every fan of Aretha Franklin and together we can show our love for a woman who made music that will forever live on.

Respect to Aretha is presented by Sweeney Entertainments and comes to the Belgrade Theatre on Saturday 4 May. Tickets are available to book now.

Respect to Aretha