A Soulful ode to the Empress of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Published 9:37 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

The Suffolk Center kicks off its 2024 Performance Season with ‘Portrait of Aretha,’ a tribute show paying homage to singer/songwriter Aretha Franklin, who taught us how to “Think” and demand “Respect …” all while ridin’ on the “Freeway of Love!” 

Singer CeCe Teneal honors the legacy of the Queen of Soul with personalized interpretations of both popular and lesser-known songs from this 18-Grammy-Award-winning icon’s 50-year career, including “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Rock Steady,” and “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do).”

Teneal says she never envisioned herself as a performer, but having inherited her voice from her mother, the universe had a different plan. An award-winning singer in her own right, Ms. Teneal has been nominated for four Independent Music Awards and claimed the title for 2011 Best R&B Album (Train from Osteen), as well as 2018 Best Soul/Funk/Fusion Song (“Danger”). She has since brought her music to over 47 countries as the opening act for Buddy Guy, Joe Cocker, Johnny Lang, Betty Wright, Cameo, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Jazmin Sullivan, Fantasia, Maze & Frankie Beverly, and the legendary B.B. King. She currently tours her celebration of the music of Aretha Franklin to tens of thousands annually at performing arts centers around the United States and onboard multiple luxury cruise lines.


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‘Portrait of Aretha’ graces the Suffolk Center’s stage for one night only, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, at 7 p.m. “We know a midweek performance is unusual for The Center, but we were so captivated by Miss Teneal in ‘Portrait of Aretha’ that we knew we needed to find a date to bring her exuberance and inspirational voice to Suffolk, Virginia.’ Rick Byrd, Suffolk Center Creative Director, said in a news release. 

During ‘Portrait of Aretha,’ any patron, 21 and over, wearing a crown or tiara will receive a complimentary glass of preshow bubbly while supplies last, the Suffolk Center said in its media release. Guests are encouraged to be creative; they can make a crown out of tin foil, decorate it, or borrow their child’s tiara. 

In addition, patrons will also enjoy a special post-show ‘Meet & Greet‘ with Teneal. New in 2024, the Center now offers an expanded bar menu that includes a variety of beer, wine, & well drinks.

To reserve your seats in the Birdsong Theater, call the Box Office at 757.923.2900, stop by the Center on Tuesdays — Saturdays, 10 a.m. — 4 p.m., or go online at SuffolkCenter.org. Tickets are $45, $40, $35.

Proceeds from this performance support the Center’s arts initiative to inspire the community and enrich lives through the arts. 

Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located in historic downtown Suffolk at 110 W. Finney Ave., Suffolk, VA 23434. Guests are asked to enter the Center using the temporary entrance off the parking lot, behind the building while the exterior renovations continue.