News Column

Queen of Soul, Mosaic Theater To Join Obama at Detroit Event

Sept. 2, 2011

Kathleen Gray

Aretha Franklin

Detroit superstar Aretha Franklin doesn't often serve as the warm-up act.

But on Monday, she'll do it for the second time for this main act. Along with the Mosaic Youth Theatre, Franklin will perform before President Barack Obama gives a Labor Day speech in downtown Detroit.

Franklin was in the crowd the last time Obama was in Detroit for Labor Day, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Obama even sang a few bars of her hit "Chain of Fools." And she sang when Obama was sworn in as president Jan. 20, 2009.

Two members of the Mosaic Youth Theatre were invited to the White House in February for a celebration of Motown, but the group hasn't performed for a president since Bill Clinton was in office. The Detroit youth group holds a special place for Obama, who has made personal contributions to the organization of $15,000 in the last two years.

"It's going to be the thrill of a lifetime," said Richard Sperling, Mosaic's founder. "This president and the first lady have really raised up the arts as something really important to the fabric of American society."

Obama will be joined by U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at speech next to the Renaissance Center. According to the White House, he will deliver an address meant to "celebrate Labor Day with workers and their families," as well as discuss efforts to create more jobs. He plans to deliver his jobs plan Thursday to Congress.

Others expected to attend the Labor Day festivities are several members of Michigan's congressional delegation and union leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, UAW President Bob King and Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.

The visit will be Obama's first to Detroit since July 2010, although he was in Holland last month.

Source: (c) 2011 the Detroit Free Press

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