Former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Aretha Franklin performed Tuesday evening at Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center to raise money for urban children and awareness for music and the arts.
“It is a joint effort for the inner-city youth of Philadelphia and Detroit,” Franklin told The Associated Press the night before their concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
“We decided to give it a try,” Franklin said. “So here we are, in the city of Brotherly — and Sisterly — Love.”
An estimated 8,000 people attended the three-hour concert where Franklin pulled from her catalog of hits as well as arias from the world of opera and classical music.
Rice, who is an accomplished a pianist accompanied Franklin as she sang her hit “I Say A Little Prayer” as well as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Earlier in the program, Rice performed a selection from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor with the orchestra, a piece she said she practiced furiously.
Franklin also got behind the piano several times Tuesday night, including for a song off her new album “A Woman Falling Out of Love,” to be released later this year. Ron Isley also surprised the audience by joining Aretha for a duet — “The Way We Were”.
For those of y’all who didn’t know Condi was so musically inclined, apparently she’s been playing piano since elementary school. She continued performing through and after college, performing chamber music and playing in quartets. She’s even played with cello great Yo-Yo Ma. Random fact — did you know Condi’s name (Condolezza) is actually derived from the Italian opera stage instruction con dolcezza, meaning “with sweetness”?
Yeah, us either! Guess ya learn something new every day.
When she learned that Rice played classical music, Franklin sent for one of her recordings “to hear what she sounded like.”
“All I had seen of Dr. Rice was in a political atmosphere. It just seemed foreign that she would be a classical pianist.”
Franklin was surprised.
“She really does play,” Franklin said. “She’s formidable.”
The two met at a White House function, Rice recalled. “We were just talking and chatting and she said ‘You play, don’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And she said we should do something together.”
Brought together by their mutual appreciation for music and determination to keep it accessible to children, Franklin and Rice set out to help save struggling arts programs from widespread school budget cuts.
“Imagine what all of this would be without music. If you have to cut, cut something else. Not the music. We need the music. It soothes the savage beast. We need the music.”
Rice, in a separate interview, agreed.
“Nothing makes me more unhappy than when I hear people talk about music education in the schools as extracurricular,” Rice said.
While Rice proved her worth at the piano she says she’ll leave the singing to Franklin.
“You do not want to hear me sing!” Rice said. “I’m a good choir musician, but I think I will stick to playing the piano.”
And it looks like Re Re even got her a new dress to rock that is slit up to THERE. Don’t hurt ’em girl, don’t hurt ’em!
On another note it is so imperative that these school music programs are kept alive!!! Good work ladies.