Michael McDonald Pays Tribute to Ailing Aretha Franklin at Detroit Concert

Nicholas Hunt/WireImage
Aretha Franklin performs on stage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala - Show at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Nov. 7, 2017 in New York City. 

Suffice to say there ain't no way Michael McDonald was going to perform in Detroit on Wednesday night and not honor Aretha Franklin.

McDonald -- who dueted with the Queen of Soul on her 1992 single "Ever Changing Times" -- paid tribute to Franklin not once but twice during his concert at Sound Board in the city's MotorCity Casino Hotel. He first offered a solo rendition of her 1968 B-side "Ain't No Way," written by her sister Carolyn Franklin for the Lady Soul album. McDonald dedicated the song "to Motown's very own Queen of Soul tonight. Please keep her in your thoughts and in your prayers." After his performance he intoned, "Thank you, Aretha Franklin."

McDonald then began his encore with a full-band rendition of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," the 1967 B-side to her first Atlantic Records single "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)." "Once again, keep her in your soul and your prayers," McDonald told the Detroit crowd at the end of the song. 

Earlier in the day, Motown great Stevie Wonder, who visited Franklin on Tuesday, dropped by McDonald's afternoon sound check but left town before the show.

Franklin remained in hospice care at her home in the Detroit area. The New Bethel Baptist Church, where she was raised and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was pastor, held a prayer vigil for her early on Wednesday morning. 

Update: McDonald has issued the following statement after Franklin's passing on Aug. 16: "Aretha Franklin holds a significant place in the collective heart of America. She’s a singular example of what we represent at our best. Her courage as an artist—making her work her life’s foremost endeavor—and her conviction to strive for her greatest potential is an example that this country will always benefit from. It's something that truly defines us in a positive light to the rest of the world. She’s one of those iconic artists that cause most people to remember where they were the very first time they heard her amazing voice. She has reached that highest level as an artist where her voice has become, in a collective and spiritual sense, our voice. In a time when art is increasingly considered a secondary human pursuit, she reminds us that it is the very thing that represents our humanity the best. Aretha Franklin is and will always be a national treasure."