The Jazz Side of Aretha Franklin

Q&A with singer/actress Desiree Roots

Feb 19, 2020

Q&A with singer/actress Desiree Roots

No stranger to The American Theatre stage, singer/actress Desiree Roots dazzles audiences yet again in her newest show, The Jazz Side of Aretha Franklin.

Ella at 100 - EVENT (3).pngWe wanted to get to know Ms. Roots' relationship to the Queen of Soul:

  • What kind of impact did Aretha Franklin have on your life?  

Growing up in a music filled household, we listened to quite a few different genres of music.  Everything from classical to gospel to country to jazz.  When I heard Aretha as a little girl ... I thought that voice could sing ANYTHING!! I wanted to be like her.  

  • How would you describe the effect Aretha Franklin’s legacy has had on the music industry (then vs now)?

Then, her versatility proved a necessity in the industry.  Now, it is still relevant.  The artists that have longevity are the ones that recreate themselves.  

  • What is your favorite lyric of hers that you include in the show?

“...You forgot to remember!”

  • What surprised you most about the production?

How hard it was to choose which songs I wanted to include.  Once I discovered the “JAZZ” side of Aretha, I kept discovering more and more songs that I fell in love with.

  • How is it similar/different from other shows you’ve performed in at The American Theatre (Ella at 100 or Pump Boys and Dinettes)?

Pump Boys and Dinettes Q&ASimilar to Ella because it comes from a place of nostalgia to honor, yet again, one of the great music icons.  Different because, unlike Ella’s swing which I grew up listening to and studying, or Pump Boys which explored a small town gas station with singing sisters, Aretha challenged me to come out of my comfort zone.  Her range when she recorded these songs was insane.  She sang soprano notes I hadn’t even THOUGHT about in years, yet alone tried to emulate. I feel I’ve grown musically because of the challenge.   

  • What are some takeaways you want the audience to have after they’ve seen the show?

I would want those who did not know of her Jazz recordings to fall in love with them just as I did. Hopefully, people will leave wanting to discover more for themselves. Aretha's Jazz side and the wealth of music she dabbled in before heading over to Atlantic, and being dubbed the "QUEEN of SOUL," will forever be legendary! 

  • Closing thoughts...

Aretha Franklin will forever and always be the QUEEN of Soul. Giving a glimpse into her Jazz throne is truly an honor!!!  Thank you Aretha ... your song has ended, but the melody lingers on! 


Limited tickets remain for The Jazz Side of Aretha Franklin on 2/22 at 8pm.