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Lady Zen’s Five Upcoming Concerts Pay Tribute to the Queen of Soul

By Fredric Dannen

Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest vocalists the United States has ever produced, probably knew she was destined for stardom when she was a child gospel singer at a Baptist church in Detroit, where her father was a minister.

But there was a slight bump on the freeway to fame: in 1959, Franklin, then 18, signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, best known for easy-listening favorites such as Andy Williams and Dinah Shore. While Franklin made some excellent recordings for Columbia, it was no home for a gospel singer.

Then, in 1966, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records lured her away, and, as he liked to say, put her “back in the church.”

By the end of the 1960s, Franklin was dubbed “the Queen of Soul,” with indelible hits like “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman,” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” to name only four.

Franklin died on August 16, 2018. Almost exactly one year later, Lady Zen, one of the luminaries of the San Miguel de Allende music scene, will debut a series of five tribute concerts to the recording star at the San Miguel Playhouse.

The tribute series, which Lady Zen calls “Requiem for the Queen of Soul,” will run Sunday, August 18, through Wednesday, August 21. All concerts are at 7pm, with an additional 3pm matinee on the final Wednesday.

Reserved-seat tickets are available at Boleto City, located at Mercado Sano on Ancha de San Antonio 123, open every day but Sunday, 11am–5pm. You can also buy tickets online at or at the San Miguel Playhouse one hour before each performance.

Lady Zen will perform with a backup band that includes Susan Varcoe on keyboards, Rick Shlosser on drums, Aaron Romo on bass, and a guitarist still to be determined. Lady Zen will perform most of the 1960s hits for which Franklin is best known, along with musical numbers from later in her career.

Lady Zen’s tribute concerts are consistently sold-out events, and no other singer on the San Miguel scene is better equipped for a tribute to Aretha Franklin. She, too, received her formative musical training in church. Born Alzenira Quezada in Brazil, she was plucked from an orphanage by Christian missionaries and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as Sheri Joy Glick. By the time she was learning to speak, Sheri Glick was the star vocal attraction at the Church of the Nazarene, singing at tent revivals, church concerts, and county fairs all over the South, winning over 60 vocal competitions in the process. She, too, took a slight detour in her singing career. At 17, she was studying opera on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Arkansas. When she discovered jazz, blues, and gospel, she restored her birth name and pursued the career she was meant for.

Combining her opera training with soulful singing, Lady Zen is a one-of-a-kind performer, an apt choice to pay tribute to the nearly inimitable Queen of Soul.



Lady Zen Sings Aretha Franklin

Sun–Tue, Aug. 18–20, 7pm

Wed, Aug 21, 3pm and 7pm

San Miguel Playhouse

Avenida Independencia 82


400 and 350 pesos

On sale at Boleto City, Mercado Sano

Ancha de San Antonio 123

Online tickets:



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