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Vocalist Denise Thimes Shares Her Gifts With St. Louis And Aretha Franklin

When a friend asked St. Louis vocalist Denise Thimes to come to Detroit to sing for her father’s 75th birthday party, she didn’t tell her until she got there that one of the guests was Aretha Franklin. “I was shaking in my boots, to say the least,” Thimes told Cityscape host Steve Potter, but she pulled herself together and sang for the diva and the others in the audience. “She wanted to hear “The Way We Were” and I really tried to sing it to the best of my ability.  And she was very pleased with that.”

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Thimes got a call one night, ( “a Thursday night at 6:02 p.m.”)  that she almost didn’t answer. “It came up anonymous,” she said.  So who answers an anonymous call?” But Thimes was thrilled that she did take the call because it was Aretha Franklin asking her to sing at her 72nd birthday party. She was only too glad to oblige and traveled back to Detroit to perform at the party with pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

When Potter asked if she could think of a better honor than singing for Aretha Franklin, Thimes replied, “It has certainly been the highlight of my life so far.  But I have to say this, Steve, I’m honored even if I’m performing for you.  It’s always an honor to give my gift.”

Thimes will share her gift in more than one way on Sunday, May 11 when she hosts and performs in the 18th Annual Denise Thimes and Friends Special Mother's Day Concert "Honoring Our Mothers - The Givers of Life” at The Sheldon.

Thimes started the annual concert in 1997 in an effort to do something special after her mother’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis.  Following her mother’s death, Thimes created the Mildred C. Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer to help fund research for a cure as well as provide support for patients and their families. And each Mother’s Day since, she has mounted a concert that both honors her mother and benefits the foundation.

Thimes will be joined on Sunday, May 11 by Cyrus Chestnut and saxophonist Tom Braxton in the Sheldon Concert Hall for this year’s concert.  An optional buffet dinner begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Sheldon’s Spiering Room, while the concert begins at 5:30 p.m. More information is available on Denise Thimes’ website.

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Mary Edwards is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio's broadcast program, "St. Louis Symphony."