A: Literally the greatest compliment I probably will ever receive was from her mouth. I’ve always been a fan of hers, since I was a kid – but a lot of times, people you like and love get threatened as artists, and they’re incapable of complimenting someone else.
I’m really into reading about artists’ lives, honestly because I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes but learn from them. I’ve read a lot on (Franklin), and you could see that she was really supportive. She was such a phenomenal talent, she was never threatened by anyone or anything. She just loved what she did and said how she felt, and though I love her as a singer, I love her for her honesty as well.
Q: How do you think Aretha Franklin was when you watched her in actual performance?
A: I feel like she was very real – and also with the support she gave to civil rights and things like that, she was more than a singer. It was an incredible thing, since I was a kid, to listen to this woman who molded and changed me into the singer I am. She was one of the greats who did that for me, and this song I’m singing (on the special) is my favorite Aretha song ever.
I thought they’d ask me to sing “Respect” or something like that, but they said. “We’d love you to do ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).’” Apparently, someone had seen me sing it; I had done it on a whole tour, so I’m pretty stoked to be able to do it, especially (among) artists that I love. When I was growing up, I played sports and it was like, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” And there are no weak links here.
Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.