Aretha plans to retire from touring. The Queen of Soul says her current tour will be her last

By Gary Susman
April 14, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

She’s the Queen of Soul, but after this fall, Aretha Franklin will not be queen of the road. The R&B legend made it official on Monday that her upcoming tour, tentatively titled ”Aretha Sings Her Musical History,” will be her last. The 61-year-old singer will continue to record and play isolated dates, but that’s it, she tells USA Today. ”I’ll never quit,” she says. ”I’ll always be singing. I just won’t do as much as I have been. I’m scaling it down.”

The tour will feature a 22-piece band, as well as dancers, for whom she is holding open auditions in Detroit the second week in May. The set list will include hits from her four-decade career, as well as Broadway show tunes that she’s never performed live before. Also expect her to sing songs from her forthcoming album, due Sept. 9, which features a song composed for her by Burt Bacharach and two duets with Mary J. Blige. (Franklin has a second new album due at the end of the year, this one featuring arias like Puccini’s ”Nessun Dorma,” which she famously sang at the Grammys in 1998, stepping in at the last minute for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti.) Dates have yet to be announced, but USA Today reports that Franklin will swing through Washington, Boston, and Atlanta in June, then the Midwest in July and New England in August.