Review: Sista’s Tribute to Aretha Franklin featuring Sophia Foster

This concert was performed in Penny Lane Studios, Cape Town on Sunday September 13, 2020, at 3pm and was live streamed via quicket. The recording of the show is available until September 20, 2020.

Duration: One hour

Tickets: R75

Booking: Quicket

It was a privilege to part of the small studio audience, watching the legendary and dazzling Sophia Foster, sharing the stage with her protégés from The Fostering Foundation. Foster set up the foundation in 2017 to train young musicians. She truly is an example of “giving back” through mentoring.

On Sunday, in the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown level 2, we saw this charismatic artist doing what she loves- spreading the love around. There is no diva act from Sophia Foster. This concert is a tribute to the great Aretha Franklin. Respect is what you get in this concert. Watch how Foster leaves the stage and provides space for her protégés. That is testament to her belief in them and their talent.  I would love to see other veteran artists doing the same. Sophia Foster is a class act. Watch and you will see what I mean.

A huge amount of work went into staging this concert. I lost count of the costume changes. The wigs outfits are fab and the makeup – glitter – the works – wow. I went backstage and I saw the stylists and make-up artist at work. It was like being back at the theatre – with everything in full swing – the energy and excitement of backstage- the rush to get it all together.

After months of lockdown, it is great to see artists kitted out in glam costumes and having a blast. I can imagine that it is not an easy gig, performing publicly after months of lockdown and doing that in a recording studio, with an audience, up close and knowing that the concert is being streamed live. It was raining outside. There we were sitting there with our masks on- watching. I would imagine that it was surreal for the performers to see masked figures in front of them. Bravo to the artists for owning that stage – huge smiles and joy.

And of course there is the ultra-stylish, chic, Sophia Foster. In an interview in 2018, I put it to her that she is the style queen and this was her reply: “If I must say so for myself I have always been a trendsetter, as no artists should walk on stage dressed like their audience.” I have to say that in the year of the pandemic, we need trendsetters. Most of us have been rather casual since March. It was great to see the razzle dazzle quotient in this concert. I have to report that the audience made an effort in dressing up. Yes, we wore our masks but we didn’t pitch up in track-suit pants.

The recording of the concert is available until September 20. Proceeds go to The Fostering Foundation and The Salvation Army. I salute Sophia Foster for producing this stirring tribute to Aretha Franklin and for pulling out the stops to stage this ambitious lockdown concert. When this pandemic is over, I will look back and remember, that moment of burst of energy and colour on stage – and music.