Proving her title as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin took to the stage like a true diva at a free outdoor mini-concert in the city Tuesday, wearing a floor-length white fur coat and belting out five tunes with gusto, including her classics Respect and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
“We love you, Aretha!” fans screamed over and over as the 65-year-old gospel legend from Detroit got the crowd clapping, singing and bopping their heads with her legendary pipes outside Holt Renfrew’s flagship Bloor Street store.
The half-hour show was part of the company’s annual holiday window display launch, emceed by Entertainment Tonight Canada hosts Cheryl Hickey and Roz Weston.
Franklin was slated to sing four tracks with the band but wound up doing five, despite the chilly temperatures and rain that she tried to shrug off by pulling her fur collars over her throat to protect her husky vocals.
In a silver-sequined shirt and skirt combo, Franklin even sat behind the piano for a track from her upcoming album, A Woman Falling Out of Love, set for release in the spring.
“It’s kind of cold out here, as you know, so I’ll probably be drinking hot tea, and that’s all it is, just to keep my throat open, OK?” she said to the crowd of hundreds who stood in the rain, some for many hours, in a blocked off section of the luxury shopping district.