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Franklin and Franken 

They top the events outside the on-site library celebration.

NATURAL WOMAN: Aretha Franklin.
  • NATURAL WOMAN: Aretha Franklin.
The Queen of Soul and the king of liberal political commentary and satire — they’re coming to Little Rock for maybe the biggest week in the city’s history. Aretha Franklin, who demanded a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T early on in her glorious R&B career, and Al Franken, who has made a living of late making fun of the neo-conservatives and pro-Republican TV pundits, highlight an impressive week of entertainment outside the main events scheduled for the Clinton President Center and Park dedication. Franklin will perform with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in “A Presidential Celebration” on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Robinson Center Music Hall. Showtime is 8 p.m. A handful of orchestra tickets priced at $300 each became available late last week, while several more $250 tickets are available in the back half of the center orchestra, according to an ASO spokesman. No balcony tickets remain. Call 666-1761. Franken is playing a benefit for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre on Monday, Nov. 15, beginning at 7:30 p.m., with local singer/dancer/comedienne Sharon Douglas opening the show. A few seats remained earlier this week for a live video feed of Franken show in the Rep’s SecondStage for $50, which includes two drinks and light snacks. Tickets to the performance in the Rep’s MainStage sold out within 48 hours of going on sale more than a month ago. Call 378-0405 for more information. Franken will be broadcasting his daily radio show on the Air America Network from the Rep’s MainStage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. (A time announced earlier was incorrect.) It’s open to the public; simply RSVP with the Rep’s box office at 378-0405. He'll also do the show live from UALR frpom 11 to 2 p.m. Thursday at the university theater. Admission is free. The four-time Emmy Award winner’s performance will benefit the Rep’s biennial $10,000 Kaufman & Hart Prize for New American Comedy, which this past summer went to “The Sleeper,” currently running on the Rep’s MainStage through Sunday, Nov. 14. From her first public appearances as a gospel singer in Detroit to becoming one of the giants of soul and pop music, Aretha Franklin is nothing short of a music icon for the baby-boomer generation. She became one of the biggest international recording stars of all time, charting 10 top 10 hits in an 18-month span between early 1967 and late 1968. As one biographer wrote, “Many saw her as a symbol of Black America itself, reflecting the increased confidence and pride of African-Americans in the decade of the civil rights movement and other triumphs for the Black community.” Her latest recording is “So Damn Happy,” released in 2003.
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