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The Queen of Soul will perform at gospel’s biggest night.

Fresh off a congenial show at NJPAC, Aretha Franklin has agreed to sing at McDonald’s Gospelfest, an annual star-driven celebration held at the Prudential Center in Newark. Gospelfest 2013 will happen on Saturday, May 11; tickets to the event are currently on sale through Ticketmaster and the Prudential Center website.

Franklin joins regular performer Donnie McClurkin, Smokey Norful, and John P. Kee in the announced Gospelfest lineup. Popular preacher T.D. Jakes is also scheduled to speak at the event.

Aretha Franklin is best known for her era-defining soul records, of course, but throughout her career, she’s always supplemented the hits with devotional recordings of uncommon fervor. Even her commercial pop music blurred the lines between the spiritual and the material; often, she’ll leave it deliberately unclear whether she’s singing to a man or to The Man. Franklin’s father was a preacher at his own New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and it was there that young Aretha first drew notoriety for her fiery singing. Until she was 18 years old, Aretha Franklin cut gospel records only. Her 1956 debut set, “Songs of Faith,” is pure gospel. Cut live at New Bethel, the disc showcased Franklin’s powerful voice — and her equally powerful piano playing. She was 14 years old at the time of its release.

Franklin never abandoned gospel. At the height of her fame and power in 1972, she returned to religious music with “Amazing Grace,” a stunning double-disc of spirituals and traditional church favorites. Her ten-minute rendition of the much-sung “Grace” is a watershed in the history of gospel soul.

Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick, the Winans, Kirk Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and many other notables have performed at Gospelfest over the past five years. Since 2008, the event has been held at the Prudential Center.

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Aretha Franklin Set To Sing At Gospelfest In Newark  was originally published on