Respect for Aretha as Sophie Foster sings in Signed, Sealed, Delivered concert at Astor Theatre


Sophie Foster. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d482598
Sophie Foster. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d482598

EVERY time Sophie Foster sings Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit Respect, she fondly remembers the first occasion she belted out the anthem.

She was just 13, singing in the school band, and it was the first song she had ever performed.

“I still have the performance on video –my rendition has gotten better over time,” Foster said.

This month the soul and R&B singer takes on the role of Franklin – who is set to retire and release her final album this year – in Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

She performs with Matt Allen, who plays superstar Stevie Wonder, and the Perth Symphony Orchestra and WAAPA Gospel Choir.

“I have very big shoes to fill, I think,” Foster said.

“I have loved Aretha ever since I was a little girl; she’s an inspiration to me and one of the reasons I sing today – I’m thrilled and absolutely terrified at the same time.”

The WAAPA grad and vocal teacher, also a fan of funk-soul artists Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu, said belting out ‘the Queen of Soul’s’ classics came naturally.

“I still have challenges because the music is of such a high calibre, but it’s mostly just fun for me,” Foster said.

“Vocally, Aretha is incredible; she just has no limit in her voice and it never ends, which is a challenge, but also the sheer emotion when she sings is amazing.

“She brings everything out on the stage and is so unapologetically herself and doesn’t really care what any one else thinks – she just does it for her and I think that is something I need to tap into.”

Foster said the event would have audiences smiling and rising to their feet for a boogie.

“There are some moments of vulnerability too, especially when I sing the aria Nessun Dorma (sung by Franklin after Pavarotti pulled out of an event),” she said.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie & Aretha

When: May 30-31

Where: Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley

Tickets: www.perthsymphony.com