COLUMBUS, Ohio — There’s something beyond delivering a set packed with her hits that’s got Aretha Franklin jazzed about fair season: the food.
Ahead of her performance today at the Ohio State Fair, the Queen of Soul says she’s eager to track down some elephant ears, a fair staple of fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she says. “I love the state fair, and I love the elephant ears.”
There may be plenty of opportunities for fried treats ahead, given that her busy 2014 tour also includes performances at the Wisconsin and Minnesota state fairs in August.
Franklin says her Columbus performance will be packed with familiar songs, selections from an upcoming CD being produced by Babyface and Andre 3000, and “a few surprises; I love surprises.”
“We’re going to have a rock ‘em, sock ‘em good time,” she says.
After some health issues, the R&B diva says she’s feeling as good as she did in her 50s but prefers not to focus on how far past 50 she is now.
“I am certainly old enough to be out after midnight,” the 72-year-old star says. “Age is just a number.”
She says she’s planning a vacation to New York after her Wisconsin gig, including a stop at the U.S. Open. She also is taking French lessons and studying classical piano with a Julliard graduate.
“I always wanted to go to Julliard, but my schedule was so heavy at that time that it just never allowed me the time to go there for long enough to learn something,” she says. “So what I did was I got a teacher who was a graduate and teacher to come to me.”
Franklin says she has begun to hear the classical training in her style and inflections and expects audiences will, too. She aspires to be as good as legendary classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz or jazz greats Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson.
“That is the level I want to be playing at,” she says. “That’s the lifetime level.”
Her upcoming recording doesn’t have a name yet, but Franklin says she’s six tracks and five vocals into it. She expects to finish the final three cuts in August.
It features R&B classics such as “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” Donna Summer’s disco classic “Last Dance” and Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.”