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Tribeca 2017: Opening Night With Clive Davis + Aretha Franklin Was Epic

Photo of Clive Davis courtesy of ABC News.

Tribeca 2017 kicked off with a bang hitting Donald Trump right in the soft parts, as not only Gov. Andrew Cuomo took some shots at him, so did Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg and Carly Simon. The 16th annual event was the fourth time I found myself scrabbling to figure out what’s going on due to overcrowding the lines, but once I got in to Radio City Music Hall for the screening of The Soundtrack of My Life, I was ready to connect my soul to the audio rollercoaster I was going to witness after the screening was over.

How could I do something like that so easily? Well, you would too if you if you saw the bill: Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, Carly Simon, Earth, Wind + Fire, Aretha Franklin. No shots to Jennifer Hudson or anyone else for that matter, but this is a line-up that could only come out for Clive Davis. His value and weight as an exec is too damn tough to be ignored. So, there I am, anticipating the best night of 2017 and once the screening of the film ended, you couldn’t cut the electricity with an adamantium knife. It was just that palpable.

Barry Manilow started things off by performing a medley of his most cherished hits. From “Mandy” to “Copacabana” to “I Write The Songs” — he had people up out of their seats from the go. I was familiar with a host of Barry Manilow songs from my time in the Midwest. He was a staple in everyone’s homes in Ohio, despite race, because he made the songs that truly got everyone to sing along. It was a rush to see one of the best selling artist of all time live and in living color.

After Jennifer Hudson came out to sing a medley of Whitney Houston hits, she retreated back to her seat to get a front row view of some group called, Earth, Wind + Fire. Funk yes! I mean this was like some otherworldly greatness jamming out in front of you and all you could was just ride the wave. They started out with “Shining Star,” which got the entire Radio City off their butts. Then hit us with “Let’s Groove” and really hit the high note for me when they played “The Way You Move” with Kenny G in the building. Most of the folks in my row only knew it as a song by OutKast, but Kenny and EWF covered this song for the former’s 2004 effort, At Last… The Duets Album.

Dionne Warwick was next. A true star in every sense of the word, it was really cool to see someone from my parent’s generation who still held such reverence for the magic of music. Coming out to put on a show, she killed it during a Stevie Wonder-less “That’s What Friends Are For,” which had the Radio City crowd swaying from back to forth.

To close out the celebration to Clive Davis, Aretha Franklin came out in all regality. Adorned with an floor-length, all-white dress, the Queen of Soul came out to only do two songs: “Natural Woman” and “Freeway of Love”. The latter song had us grooving, Aretha pulling off some dope moves and everyone truly enjoying this legendary night with all the best stars of the past 40 years in music. An extra cool point given to Aretha for plugging her show at the same very venue in June and July.

Stay tuned to @Okayplayer and @KevitoClark as we continue to hit the town for the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

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