RELEASE: The Omaha Symphony Makes Way for the Queen of Soul in Aretha Franklin Tribute

Broadway star Capathia Jenkins and GRAMMY-nominated Ryan Shaw take the Holland stage

OMAHA, Neb., March 17, 2021 — With hits like “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Think”, the Omaha Symphony pays tribute to one of the greatest musical icons of all time in Tribute to Aretha Franklin April 2-3. With classics spanning the range of Aretha Franklin’s nearly 60 years in music, Broadway star Capathia Jenkins and GRAMMY-nominated singer Ryan Shaw take audiences through a lush symphonic retrospective of one of the greatest music careers in history under the baton of guest conductor Christopher Dragon.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall.

With a career spanning over five decades, Aretha Franklin became one of the most iconic musicians of all time, ushering in a brand-new era of gospel-informed pop music that was steeped in her passion for social justice. Born in Memphis in 1942 to a large musical family, Franklin grew up as the daughter of a Baptist minister father and a musical mother. Aretha came of age in Detroit singing gospel music in church, the Franklins’ home serving as a gathering place for many of the gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward. After traveling with her father as part of his “gospel caravan” tours across the United States, Aretha released her first single “Never Grow Old” and signed a record deal with Columbia Records soon thereafter.

With her father’s blessing, Franklin moved to New York and began performing secular music, but it wasn’t until she signed with Atlantic Records that she began to craft her own musical identity. It was in this era that she was crowned the “Queen of Soul,” her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” and her original “Think” became anthems of personal, sexual, and racial empowerment. Franklin was later known for her commitment to social justice as her music became associated with the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960’s. A frequent attendee at rallies and protests, Franklin often worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Angela Davis. “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing,” she once said. “It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”

In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first woman ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She accumulated countless career accolades, including the Kennedy Center Honor in 1994, a National Medal of Arts in 1999, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Across her career, Franklin’s music topped the charts, earning her 73 Billboard Hot 100 entries; she was awarded a total of 18 GRAMMY awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the GRAMMY Legend Award. She has five recordings in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.

Program Info:

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 2
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3

Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall

Capathia Jenkins, vocals
Ryan Shaw, vocals
Christopher Dragon, conductor

Chain of Fools
Birth of the Blues
Nobody Does it Better
What a Friend We Have in Jesus/Climbing Higher Mountains
America the Beautiful
MacArthur Park
I Got You (I Feel Good)
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
A Change is Gonna Come
Isn’t She Lovely
Try a Little Tenderness
Amazing Grace
Think (from “The Blues Brothers”)

About Capathia Jenkins

Brooklyn-born and raised actress and Broadway singer Capathia Jenkins most recently starred as Medda in the hit Disney production of “Newsies” on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in “The Civil War,” where she created the role of Harriet Jackson, and went on to perform in “The Look of Love” and was critically acclaimed for her performances of the Bacharach/David hits. She then starred in the Off-Broadway 2000 revival of “Godspell,” where she wowed audiences with her stirring rendition of “Turn Back, O Man” which can still be heard on the original cast recording. Her other Off-Broadway appearances include “(mis) Understanding Mammy-The Hattie McDaniel Story” for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and Nora Ephron’s “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”

An active concert artist, Ms. Jenkins has appeared with orchestras around the world including the Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Her television credits include” 30 Rock,” The Practice,” “Law & Order SVU,” “The Sopranos,” and “Law & Order.”

About Ryan Shaw

Ryan Shaw is a three-time GRAMMY nominated artist for his solo projects, Columbia Records’ “This is Ryan Shaw,” “In Between” and “Dynotone’s Real Love.” He has shared the world stage with such artists as Van Halen, Bonnie Raitt, John Legend, B.B. King and Jill Scott. His music has been featured on FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and ABC’s “Dancing with The Stars,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Lincoln Heights,” and the films “My Blueberry Nights,” “Bride Wars” and the “Sex and the City” soundtrack. Mr. Shaw has starred in roles such as Judas in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Olivier Award-winning London production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the original Stevie Wonder in “Motown: The Musical” on Broadway, and on London’s West End as the Soul of Michael Jackson in “Thriller Live.”

Ryan debuted at Radio City Music Hall in the Dream Concert benefit for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. His Carnegie Hall appearances include Elton John and Bernie Taupin Tribute, A Celebration of The African American Cultural Legacy, and a Nat King Cole 100th concert with the NY Pops. His concert schedule includes Nat King Cole at 100 with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center, and A Tribute to the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin with numerous orchestras throughout North America. Ryan’s new album, Imagining Marvin, showcases Marvin Gaye hits alongside Ryan’s original songs and features multi GRAMMY Award-winning co-writers and special guests.

About Christopher Dragon

Australian conductor Christopher Dragon is currently Resident Conductor of the Colorado Symphony. He joined the orchestra in the 2015/16 Season as Associate Conductor—a position he held for four seasons. For three years prior, Dragon held the position of Assistant Conductor with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, which gave him the opportunity to work closely with Principal Conductor Asher Fisch.

Christopher works regularly in Australia and has guest conducted the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras. His 2015 debut performance at the Sydney Opera House with Josh Pyke and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra was released on album by ABC Music and won an ARIA the following year. Christopher’s international guest conducting includes the Orquestra Sinfônica de Porto Alegre, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

He has also conducted at numerous festivals including the Breckenridge and Bangalow Music Festivals, with both resulting in immediate re-invitations. At the beginning of 2016, Mr. Dragon conducted Wynton Marsalis' Swing Symphony as part of the Perth International Arts Festival alongside Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Ticketing Information

Tickets for Tribute to Aretha Franklin start at $20. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at

Public Health Information

Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. All patrons will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to accessing their mobile tickets via the Ticket Omaha app. Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances. The following changes have been implemented within the venue:

  • Enhanced Cleaning & Sanitation - Electrostatic technology disinfecting large common areas, enhanced sanitizing of high touch surfaces with hospital grade disinfectant and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue
  • Heating and Cooling System – Upgrades to air handling units includes bipolar ionization filtering out viruses through ventilation
  • Staff Precautions – Staff and volunteers are required to complete a health screening upon entrance to the building, wear face masks and receive temperature checks.
  • Touchless Experience – Tickets are accessible via the Ticket Omaha app. Tickets can also be printed at Will Call. Program notes will be delivered digitally.

Find the most up to date public health information at

This performance is sponsored by Immanuel Communities and First National Bank of Omaha.

The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or visit Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.