When the Queen of Soul invites you to her to exclusive platinum birthday dinner fete at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in New York City, you don’t just RSVP... you jump for joy then quietly whisper; “I’ve arrived” to yourself only as to not be gauche. Then proceed to riffle through your closet to find an outfit that may just possibly pass as being acceptable for such a lavish bash. At 70 years young Ms. Aretha Franklin swept into her party on Saturday night in a lovely beaded frock, and took her spot at her head table with the likes of Music Mogul Clive Davis, News Icon Diane Sawyer and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Debra L. Lee—who according to a little birdie gifted the Queen of Soul with a private dinner with Marcus Samuelsson at the famous chef's exclusive Harlem restaurant Red Rooster.
With no detail unturned, Ms. Franklin painstakingly arranged the seating chart herself and continued to curate the event as the night progressed in the theme – “Summer of 42’,” the year she was born and a 1971 big screen coming–of-age flick, inspired by the memoirs of Herman Raucher. It reminded us that for this Grammy-winning, living legend no detail is too small, and that every moment counts. Ms. Franklin was steadfast in her birthday party being pulled off without a hitch and of course with style.
Then out of corner of our eyes, as revelers were being delighted by the talents of young jazz pianist Kris Bowers and his band as he played “Summer of 42’” from the movies soundtrack, we spied Al Sharpton and author/academic Michael Eric Dyson. As the A-Lister piled in, each one seemed as humbled as the next to have been invited to such a historic event. Later as the first course was being plated, Ms. Franklin sequestered the vocal talents of newcomer José James, who offered the crowd throwback smooth jams, reminiscent of the rat pack era. After giving the whippersnappers a chance to shine, Ms. Franklin revealed her own big news, by noting that she’ll be working on a new album with the man who jumpstarted it all, Clive Davis. And to that, we raised our glasses and offered congratulations to Ms. Franklin on her monumental accomplishments and new beginnings.