Concordia University Ann Arbor will pay tribute to Detroit-native and music legend Aretha Franklin on Friday, March 24, with a midday musical performance that will feature the Queen of Soul’s preferred concert piano.

In 2014, Concordia purchased from Jim King of King’s Keyboard House, a music shop located in Ann Arbor, a Yamaha C7 concert grand that was Franklin’s favored instrument. According to King, Franklin frequently would call him to rent the piano for her concerts and recording sessions. Read more about CUAA’s acquisition of the beloved piano here.

On Friday, March 24, from 12 to 1 p.m., King will treat students, faculty and staff to a concert of a few of Franklin’s greatest hits, including “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” and “Amazing Grace.” CUAA students Jessica Russ (freshman) and Shekina Whitehead (senior) will provide vocals on the songs.

“Most people who have a history in Ann Arbor are aware of King’s Keyboard House, and Jim King – beyond being a gracious contributor to the Ann Arbor community — is a versatile, gifted pianist,” said Concordia Director of Choirs Brian Altevogt. “It seemed a perfect fit to connect two of our talented vocalists with Jim as we look to honor the music and legacy of Aretha Franklin on what she still calls ‘her piano.’  Those who join us on Friday will remember this occasion.”

The tribute will be held in the recently renovated Recital Hall in the Kreft Center for the Arts, which houses the concert grand. An invitation has been extended to Franklin.

The concert comes a day in advance of Franklin’s 75th birthday. The daughter of a Baptist minister, Franklin began her career singing gospel at her father’s church. She eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on “Billboard,” becoming the most charted female artists in the list’s history. Franklin is an 18-time Grammy winner and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Concordia boasts undergraduate degrees in music, worship arts, and music education. Students in these programs regularly have access to Franklin’s beloved piano for rehearsal and performance purposes.

Contact Manager of Campus Communications Rachel Ferry with questions regarding the event at or (734) 476-7736. To learn more about Concordia’s Fine Arts programs, click here.

— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to

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