Mention “Aretha” and Aretha Louise Franklin immediately comes to mind. She was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist who was often referred to as the “Queen of Soul.” Aretha Franklin has twice been placed among the top 10 in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. With such hits as “Respect”, “Amazing Grace”, and “I Say A Little Prayer”, you probably wouldn’t align Aretha’s music with a symphony orchestra.

Yet, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor, Thomas Fortner is doing just that this weekend.

He’s here to tell us more about this weekend’s performance and how the South Dakota Symphony will be paying homage to the Queen of Soul.

There is only one Queen of Soul! So make your plans now to attend Saturday night’s performance at the Washington Pavilion’s Mary W. Sommervold Hall. The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra tribute to Aretha Franklin will feature Broadway powerhouse, Capathia Jenkins, and Grammy-nominated R&B singer, Ryan Shaw, in a performance of Aretha’s one-and-only interpretations including “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Respect.” Tickets are still available, you can reach the Washington Pavilion Box Office by calling 605-367-6000. Or purchase them online at

This centennial season features music from various South Dakota artists, world premieres and thrilling symphonic masterworks including a 100th birthday celebration finale. You can support their efforts by making a donation, as your gift is critical for continuing orchestra concerts, music education programs and impactful community building programs. Visit to learn more.