The Queen stands alone.
For the first time in her legendary career, Aretha Franklin is truly in charge of everything.
"I am loving being the CEO and the COO and all the oh-oh-ohs," she said, calling from her Manhattan hotel, and getting ready for Wednesday night's Nikon at Jones Beach show. "I am loving it. . . . The times when I'm not wearing the artist hat -- when you're making the calls on how many CDs to order and how much that's going to cost -- I'm really enjoying it."
Her new album, "A Woman Falling Out of Love," was delayed by her health scare last year for an undisclosed condition that required surgery. Arriving finally in May, it's the first on her own record label, Aretha's Records, and reflects The Queen of Soul's unique twist on her domain. There's a bit of the blues with B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen," there's a bit of pop with the classic "The Way We Were" and, of course, a whole lot of soul with "New Day" and "How Long I've Been Waiting," which she wrote herself.
Why did you pick "How Long I've Been Waiting" as the first single?
I thought it was one of the best songs on the album. I really believe in that song. It's a simple melody, but it's a beautiful melody. And I think a lot of people can relate to it.
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You'll be playing that in concert?
Yes, I'll be doing all of the hits and some surprises -- some things you don't expect to hear and some classics. . . . I'll be doing that one because it's the single, and I'll probably be doing "Sweet Sixteen."
How did you decide on doing "Sweet Sixteen"?
I heard that song many years ago -- well, not that many -- when I was 16 or 17 and I was working in Brooklyn at a club called The Town Hill for R&B artists and I heard Ronnie Isley and The Isley Brothers singing it. I loved it so much I never forgot it. . . . Then, when I was back in Detroit at home, I heard B.B. King sing it and then again, loved it, loved it, loved it. I had to reach back and get that one.
Your movie biography has been delayed again.
We're at a Mexican standoff on a major point. I hope the people involved will come back and do the right thing. . . . I'm going to continue on with the projects on the table. I recorded with Tony Bennett the other night, and I loved, loved, loved what we did, Alan and Marilyn Bergman's "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" That should be smashing.
How is your foot doing?
It should be OK after another week or two. . . . I'm still wearing high heels because I don't feel dressed in my gown without them.
And how is your health otherwise?
Very well, thank you. I am doing fabulously well.
The Queen of Soul plays what she wants, OK? She will change a set list onstage if the mood hits her. Here is what she played last month at the Toronto Jazz Festival:
"Cherokee (Indian Love Song)"
"A Natural Woman"
"I Say a Little Prayer"
"Something He Can Feel"
"Moody's Mood for Love"
"How Long I've Been Waiting"
"Baby I Love You"
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"You Send Me"
"Freeway of Love"
WHO Aretha Franklin
WHEN | WHERE Wednesday at 7 p.m., Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
INFO $29.50-$125; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com