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Heart and soul

She has demanded respect and, at this point in her career, she sure as heck deserves it.

Soul diva Aretha Franklin will command attention once again as she sings about love, prayers and, of course, a little respect at 9 tonight in the Avalon Ballroom of Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Recognized for her impressive pipes at a young age, Franklin spent much of her teenage years touring the gospel belt. Yet it was quickly discovered that the singer's talents extended further, into the depths of jazz, pop and R&B. Her debut into the industry marked her outstanding popularity with fans and fellow musicians, and over the years she has fittingly earned the title Queen of Soul.

On her recent release, "So Damn Happy," Franklin teams up with other music nobility, including producer Troy Taylor (Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore) and the talented soulstress Mary J. Blige. The CD title, as well as its tracks, suggest Franklin has steered away from her days of scolding foolish love and instead found happiness in, well, being happy. And if the Queen is pleased, it is likely the crowd will be, too.

Tonight's show is sold out.

-- Molly Hirschbeck

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