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Aretha Franklin to Be Honored By Major League Baseball

Singer will be on hand at civil rights event next month

Aretha Franklin performs in Toronto.
Jag Gundu/Getty Images
July 26, 2013 12:00 PM ET

Aretha Franklin will be honored at the 2013 Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Luncheon next month alongside former baseball (and football) star Bo Jackson. The singer will be recognized in Chicago on August 24th before the MLB's annual Civil Rights Game, which features the Chicago White Sox against the Texas Rangers this year.

100 Greatest Singers: Aretha Franklin
"The MLB Beacon Awards offer a positive reminder that there are individuals who use their celebrity and fame to make a positive difference in our society," Frank Robinson, MLB executive vice president of baseball development, said in a statement. Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Muhammad Ali and Hall of Fame baseball players Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are among those who have previously received MLB Beacon Awards.

Franklin has recently been dealing with unspecified medical issues: she canceled a Detroit show this month after clearing her June schedule to undergo medical treatment.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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