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Good 4 the Soul
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Willena NV Vaughn
Aretha Franklin has been called the Queen of Soul. Anyone who is a fan won’t want to miss the Aretha Franklin Tribute Show and Dance at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Argosy Casino Alton. Presented by Howard Neal Entertainment, it promises to be an evening of musical entertainment.
The format for this tribute will be big band. The group Good 4 the Soul, which regularly performs at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis, will perform along with well-known St. Louis area vocalists Willena NV Vaughn and Ronnie Gee.
From this side of the river, Olivia Neal will perform. She is an actress and singer, performing rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, and gospel music. She has performed in the musical production “Tell Me Something Good” and at The Black Rep. Neal is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a degree in theater performance. Each year she travels to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to do musical performances.
Also from the Alton area, the Howard Neal Horn Section will perform. This group is composed of two trumpeters, two saxophonists and a trombonist.
Howard Neal is no newcomer to the Alton music scene, having been a musician for more than 50 years. He formed Shoestring Records, then Naketa Music Publishing, and started Howard Neal Entertainment in 2011. His first production was at Lewis and Clark Community College in 2004 and has also organized a fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation at the Jacoby Arts Center.
“I’m really concerned about preserving the music of that era,” Neal said. “This music is important to me. Hopefully, the ones coming after me will continue it. It’s the biggest promotion I’ve ever had to do.”
For this latest endeavor, Neal partnered with Keith Porter, a musician and retired Jefferson City police officer. These days, Porter keeps himself busy volunteering his time with youths, helping drum and bugle corps in the St. Louis area.
Neal said he is passionate about bringing “great musical production to the Alton area.”
“(Aretha Franklin) is famous and has influenced many musicians,” he said. “People can connect with her music, and I want to see younger people enjoy her music. She has great songs like ‘Respect,’ ‘Think’ and ‘Chain of Fools.’ It’s one big, ‘big band’ show.
“I just can’t wait; it’s essentially a big band of Aretha Franklin works.”
Olivia Neal, Neal’s daughter, puts it more simply.
“Her music brings people together,” she said.
The two-hour tribute begins at 8 p.m., with doors open at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20; a dance will follow. Free valet parking, cash bar and access to the casino are included. The event is a 21-and-up show, and a valid form of identification is required.
Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com. For information, call (573) 301-0106 or (618) 581-9246.