The Queen of Soul: WMNF’s Tribute to Aretha (Bradenton)

Produced by Katt Hefner / Skattan
$15 advance, $20 door. Get tickets here  Manatee Performing Arts Center
~ Advanced tickets are selling fast (less than 100 remain, as of 10/25/18) ~

After Aretha Franklin died on August 16, the outpouring of grief turned to a celebration of her life and music.   Within a week WMNF, with help from singers Katt Hefner and Velma Glover,  had assembled two tribute shows to the Queen of Soul.  Some of the most outstanding soul,  R&B and blues singers in Florida will each perform three Aretha songs backed by an outstanding R&B band led by Vincent Sims that includes horns and backup singers.

During her life Aretha Franklin received a truckload of accolades, including a stack of gold and platinum records and an armful of Grammy awards.   But Aretha is a legend not just because of the hits. She is the undisputed “Queen of Soul”  because of her singularly magnificent, distinctive voice, a voice that rattles the heart and enraptures the soul.  It is a voice that is a cornerstone of American music and the  personification of  modern American soul music.

These are the outstanding singers who will be interpreting Aretha with love: 

CeCe Teneal  –  Cece  has many performed many tributes “to the queen”, and is recognized for her ability to evoke the sound and spirit of Aretha.  Her career skyrocketed when she was selected as the lead singer for B.B. King’s Blues Club in 2007. CeCe succeeded in transforming B.B. King’s into the most frequented live music venue in Orlando, and in 2011 she released her debut blues album, “Train from Osteen”,  leading to sold out crowds and being dubbed the “Voice of Neo-Blues”. CeCe has traveled the world with her talent.  We are happy to have this acclaimed Aretha interpreter at our shows.
Lauren Mitchell  –     Lauren Mitchell is no stranger to the Tampa Bay blues scene, but lately she’s been sharing her gifts with folks all around the country. In September, Lauren and her band returned from a month-long, 6,000 mile U.S. tour that had her sharing the stage with the likes of Buddy Guy and Lurrie Bell. Her 2017  release, “Desire” has opened many doors for her and garnered her two Blues Blast Award Nominations, as well as high praise from the Blues/Soul/Roots community all over the world.   Ms Mitchell has been an artist on the rise since the release of her first album, “Please Come Home” in 2013, which was followed by a 2014 win to represent the Suncoast Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge.
Katt Hefner   –  From her early years in church choir to her jazz and pop performances today,  Katt Hefner possesses a compelling voice that ranks in the very top echelon of respected female jazz singers. Her credits include musicals, television, movies, and concerts that span the world, including the renowned Jazz in the Heritage Gardens festival in Moscow and Clearwater Jazz Holiday. As an innovator of educational outreach programs nationally, community service and her worldwide musical achievements, Katt was just recently inducted into the Ford City Area Hall of Fame in Pennsylvania. Katt is the producer of this epic homage, The Queen of Soul: WMNF’s Tribute to Aretha (Manatee Performing Arts Center / Bradenton)
Sugar and Spice  – The 2017 Memphis International Blues Challenge winners are known for putting their indelible and unparalleled stamp of strong soulful and gospel-drenched vocals onto every song. With a sound reminiscent of Saturday night juke joints and Sunday morning hallelujahs, these true blood sisters learned to sing at the feet of their mother, the late Loretta Glover, a Florida R&B/soul and blues legend. Sugar and Spice are undisputedly the reigning duo of soul, R&B, blues and rock-n-Roll.
Theo Valentin  –    Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, Theo started singing solo in church at age five and learned the gospel style which still influences her today.. In 2001-2003, Theo collaborated and formed the band “Project Necessary”, who had the honor of performing for our military troops overseas,  including Korea, Guam, Japan, Singapore, Turkey, and Egypt. In 2010-2013, Theo sang background and performed with the following world-renowned musicians: Jean Carne, George Benson, Howard Hewett, Glenn Jones, Danny Boy, Phil Perry, Reggie Wooten.  Theo is currently on tour with the legendary Norman Connors and the Starship Orchestra.
Belinda Womack  –    In January of 2018, Belinda was honored, along with 29 other music individuals, bands and entities, as one of the most influential musicians in the Tampa Bay community. Belinda is hailed as a singer, musician, thespian, teacher, evangelist and encourager whose heart is making life better for others. Belinda Womack is an outstanding motivational speaker and vocalist who is an aficionada of Gospel and Jazz music.
Twinkle –  Warner Brother’s and EMI recording artist, Twinkle Schascle Yochim, has been a professional performer and songwriter for 38 years. Her first album ‘Haunted by Real Life’  was net with critical acclaim and placed on the Jazz charts, led to a stint on VH1 as guest VJ and the back cover of Billboard Magazine. She appears on Rod Stewart’s 6 million seller ‘Vagabond Heart’ album and was vocalist for Dickey Betts and Great Southern. Twinkle has worked with Aerosmith, Jerry Wexler, Percy Sledge, Toto, members of The Allman Brothers band, and many more.  Twinkle has devoted her life to music and is trying to “Save the world one gig at a time.”
Brenda Watty   –     Born in Baltimore, Brenda Watty started as a singer at the tender age of 10. She also sang in college choirs and numerous college plays. Brenda moved to the Big Apple, New York City, at the age of 21 to study vocals where she studied under the direction of June Monteiro. After completion of studies, she joined the girl singing group, The Toys, noted for the hit song “A Lover’s Concerto”. Brenda is proud to say that she sang with the Marvelettes claiming another hit song, “Please Mr. Postman”. She toured with Demond Wilson of Sanford & Son and Ricky Nelson of the Ozzie and Harriet Show. She has worked with the original Temptations, the Four Tops, Mary Wells and many more of the Motown family. Brenda is now living in Sarasota FL where she just released her first solo album IT’s MY TIME. You can download it on her website
YaYa Diamond   –    Yaya Diamond comes from an enriched musical family of Multi-Platinum and Grammy award winners.  She has opened, as a solo act and member of The Crashers, a SW Florida Premier band, for various artists such as Mary Mary, appearing on TV programs BET and the Word Network multiple times, Aaron Nevil, The Former Ladies of The Supremes, Cherry Poppin Daddies, Here Comes the Mummies, Rare Earth, and many more!  She is currently on tour with the former lead singer of The Temptations, Glenn Leonard, singing lead and background vocals for Glenn Leonard Presents Hitsville Live Show, as well as heading up her own live shows, The Beautiful Tour and Stand, world-wide. With her solo projects she has won Best Song of the Year  and multiple Billboard recognition awards. She is currently performing with the #1 Funk band on Reverbnation, Rev. Barry and Funktastic Soul featuring The Hellacious Horns.
Shantel  Norman   As a 15 year old in Lexington, North Carolina, Shantel Norman  discovered that she might be the next great soulful R&B singer after winning a radio contest competing to  sound the most like Mary J. Blige.  Shantel has gone on compete in many talents shows placing first or second at Triad Idol of North Carolina, the Omega Psi Phi talent show, and the ABC network reality show Karaoke Battle USA.   Shantel has also sung at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem and came in 2nd  singing Tina Turner’s “Whats Love Got To Do With It”. Now living in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, she won the 2016 Herald-Tribune Readers Choice Award as ‘Best Local Entertainment’. Shantel has sung for the Sarasota Film Festival, Sarasota National Cemetery honoring our Vets, Southwest Florida American Red Cross, Sarasota Classic Car Museum where she had her first SOLD OUT concert, to name a few.  You can now catch Shantel singing in the area with the well-known reggae group Jah Movement Reggae Band.

Vincent Sims (guitarist) was raised in St. Petersburg, FL and earned a 2-year certificate in professional music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He has played with many recognized artists in the jazz and blues fields. Artists such as Al Downing & The Allstars, Lauren Mitchell, Heffner & Hefner, Lucky Peterson, James Peterson, Koko Taylor and Belinda Womack. Vincent is a former President of the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association. Vincent is the bandleader for both the Aretha Franklin Tributes in St. Petersburg (The Palladium) and in Bradenton (Manatee Performing Arts Center).

Bill Buchman (piano/keys) is a dynamic and wide-ranging contemporary jazz and blues pianist who has worked with many top musical artists and has performed around the US as well as in France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. He now lives in Sarasota and performs frequently in the Tampa Bay area. Bill has a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Johnnie Barker (bassist) is a Sarasota native who plays over 15 instruments with bass being primary. He also is a composer, producer and studio engineer. He first began his passion for music in his church, where he later became the band’s bass player. After graduating from Sarasota High School, Mr. Barker then moved to Boston, Massachusetts to matriculate at Berklee College of Music. Johnnie has worked and recorded with a plethora of local and international artists. He has also opened for guest artist such as Buddy Guy, Heart, Gregg Rolie, and Jonny Lang.

James Vanardo (drums) was born in New Orleans, LA., where he began playing drums in the Baptist Church. James’ love of God is second to none. James has played with some of the finest names in Louisiana, and the music industry including: Dixie Cups (Chapel of Love) George Porter of the Meters (Sissy Strut) Charmaine Neville of the Neville Brothers Family Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen Wild Magnolia’s and the Mardi Gras Indians Tad Benoit – Swamp Blues Band Mem Shannon and the Membership Blues Band Dickey Betts (Allman Bros.) While touring with Dickey Betts and GreatSouthern (Allman Bros.), he has shared bookings with such music greats as Santana, Peter Frampton, ZZ Topp, and BB King. With 19 tours out of the US, he has been blessed to be on stage playing and living a life doing what he loves to do. His main passion is jazz, feeling a need to pursue this he chose to leave Dickey Betts and move into a world closer to his roots. When not touring, or playing locally, he shares his love of drums with students giving lessons in the Sarasota area, Troll Music.

Butch Thomas (Saxophonist) is a Platinum Grammy Recipient and 2012 Grammy Nominee, composer and jazz educator. BUTCH THOMAS is a widely known and respected, having toured with Sting, Lenny Kravitz, the late legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, Elton John, Diana Ross, James Taylor, Heffner & Hefner and many others including The Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin.

Ian Indorf has a Master of Music Degree in Trumpet Performance from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He has taught at Malone University, The University of Mount Union, and the College of Wooster. In addition, Ian was the recording engineer at the University for Akron recording over 1000 college music recitals. In 1998, Ian toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and has performed with national names such as Frankie Avalon, Al Martino, Mary Wilson (The Supremes), Bobby Vinton, Sonny Turner (The Platters), The Dells, and The O’Jays.

John Cooley, (Trombone) Principal Trombone Binghamton NY Symphony and Pops Orchestras, 16 years. He is a longtime member of Music Unlimited. High School Band Director. He relocated to Sarasota, 2010. In Florida, he has performed in over 175 shows at Asolo Rep. Theatre, Venice Theatre and others including West Side Story, Luck be a Lady, Guys and Dolls and others. Performed with Tony Bennett and the Woody Herman Band, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, Clark Terry and The Midtown Men etc. John has also toured with Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Circus Band.

Song list:
I Never Loved A Man

I Say a Little Prayer

You’re All I Need To Get By


Don’t Play That Song



Border Song  (Holy Moses)

Chain of Fools

Rock Steady

Spanish Harlem

Young Gifted and Black

Amazing Grace

Freeway of Love

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

I Knew You Were Waiting For Me

Baby, I Love You

A Rose Is Still a Rose

Until You Come Back to Me

Ain’t No Way

Since You’ve Been Gone

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

Natural Woman

Dr. Feelgood

Bridge Over Trouble Water

Wholly Holy

 See Saw

Dark End of the Street

The Weight

Good To Me As I Am To You 


  • Tribute to Aretha in Bradenton
     October 29, 2018
     7:30 pm - 10:30 pm

You may also like

Living Mirror Playback Theater – Storytelling & Improv

Living Mirror Playback Theater of Tampa Bay & WMNF Present… Celebrating...

Sacred Lands presents Mean Mary

SACRED LANDS is a beautiful waterfront botanical garden, a 501c3...

Community Fun Fair

The Resource Empowerment Centre (The REC) holds a Community Fun...

WMNF’s Big Gay Radio Show presents: Drag Bingo hosted by Alexis De La Mer

We’re trying out a NEW VENUE – Cliché Restaurant, Bar...

Ways to listen

WMNF is listener-supported. That means we don't advertise like a commercial station, and we're not part of a university.

Ways to support

WMNF volunteers have fun providing a variety of needed services to keep your community radio station alive and kickin'.

Follow us on Instagram

Morning Energy
Player position: