Everything that glittered was in fact gold Saturday night as Aretha Franklin celebrated her 72nd birthday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City. With a live jazz band, Oscar- and Grammy-winning guests, wine, hors d’oeuvre and cake in abundance, the Queen of Soul celebrated her March 25 birthday over the weekend in pure opulence.

Sans entourage or bodyguards, Denzel Washington (in a very nondescript baseball cap and jeans) inconspicuously walked into the party midway to help Franklin celebrate. The crowd went wild galvanizing into a huddle with lights and cameras for photos of Ms. Franklin, Denzel Washington, Congressman Charles Rangel, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, William Wilkerson, Judge Mathis and Clive Davis.


Before enjoying a birthday serenade by jazz vocalist Denise Thimes, Franklin told EBONY.com, “I’m young at heart and I wanna stay that way.” She discussed her visit to the White House last week (for PBS’s Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House, airing April 7), and her recent BET Honors awarding.

“I’m very happy about my granddaughter Victorie performing for me and my son Kecalf on BET Honors,” said Miss Franklin. Her wish is to score them both a record deal. In counseling other young artists building their own decades-spanning legacies, Franklin advises, “Take your time. Surround yourself with qualified people—credible, legitimate, qualified people—and go for it.”

With infectious enthusiasm, the Queen of Soul left us with her own special shout-out: “Ebony forever! Jet forever!”  

A very happy birthday to Ms. Aretha Franklin, and many more!

Eeshé White