What do you get when you put a former Secretary of State together with the Queen of Soul? Apparently, you get beautiful music and lots of money raised for a good cause. Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Aretha Franklin took the stage together at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia last week. Their goal was to raise money for music and arts awareness for children in Detroit and Philadelphia's inner city schools.
Before a crowd of over 8,000 people Franklin and Rice performed two songs together: "I Say a Little Prayer" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Earlier in the three-hour concert Rice also played a selection from Mozart's "Piano Concert No. 20 in D Minor." During her tenure as Secretary of State, many people were surprised to learn Rice was not only an important diplomat but a classically trained pianist as well.
Rice and Franklin first met at a White House event several years ago. The two were chatting when Franklin suggested they do a duet together. Franklin said she was surprised that Rice "really does play" and called her "formidable." According to the Associated Press, Rice said this particular night was born out of both women's desire to keep music accessible to children.
Music has always been close to the former Secretary's heart. Rice began taking piano lessons at the age of three and gave her first recital at the age of four. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Rice became known as a musical prodigy in the area and could often be found playing at community events and schools. When she was 15, she played at the Denver Symphony and though she does not play professionally, she does play regularly with a chamber music group in Washington, DC. She has performed for Queen Elizabeth and played alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
She has stated that her favorite composer is Johannes Brahms because his music is "passionate but not sentimental." She has also said her favorite band is Led Zeppelin. Rice's name even has a musical background. Her mother, Angelena, a teacher and church organist, loved opera so much that she named her daughter after an Italian music term "con dolcezza." It means "to play with sweetness."
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