Concordia University Ann Arbor students paid tribute to the Queen of Soul on Friday, March 24, the day before her 75th birthday.

Accompanied by Aretha Franklin’s favorite concert piano, students Shekina Whitehead and Jessica Russ serenaded an audience of CUAA faculty members and students with some of Franklin’s greatest hits, including “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” and “Amazing Grace.” Jim King of King’s Keyboard House in Ann Arbor accompanied them.

Concordia purchased the Yamaha C7 concert grand from King in 2014. King said Franklin would often ask him to deliver the piano to her recording studio in Detroit and implied that it was the only piano she wanted to play and record with.

In an email sent through Franklin’s assistant to a Concordia University communications staff member, Franklin acknowledged her love of the piano.

Check out the video below to catch a glimpse of the Concordia tribute concert.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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