Two senior women in two worlds of music will be honored in 2011: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, at the Grammy Awards on February 13, and later in the year Melveen Leed, Hawaii's Queen of Country.
These days young women like Taylor Swift and Martina McBride straddle the divide between pop and country, as critics tell us the divide is narrowing over the years, but these seniors songstresses, Aretha Franklin and Melveen Leed, still perform before crowds of appreciative fans with voices that have given both the signature statement of being the best over time.
This year at the Grammy Awards Martina McBride will stand with female performers from other musical venues as she performs during the Grammy Awards. Those female performers include Yolanda Adams, gospel singer, Christina Aguilera, pop star, Jennifer Hudson, R&B singer and rocker Florence Welch in a musical tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. This speaks of how young women appreciate the achievements of older women who set a pace that some say is hard to beat in the entertainment world
Aretha Franklin, age 68, will be getting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys on February 13. Like Melveen Leed, another woman in her 60s’i she continues to perform and be appreciated for her performances.
While country crossovers continue in linking pop, country and other forms of music, the stars will be seen again expanding their reach in entertainment.. That reach has included Hawaii, where country got a brand new direction with Melveen Leed fifty years ago.
Melveen Leed, affectionately known as "da Tita" (the sister) was the first major, female country singer in Hawaii and as critics say remains at the top of her game. She was born and raised on the island of Molokai, therefore she was country indeed. Far fewer tourists visit Molokai, as it does not have the major entertainment sites like the showrooms of Waikiki. . Molokai is country, complete with wide open spaces, horses, small towns and simple ways. Leed was surrounded by country at a time when country wasn’t as cool as it is today, either in Hawaii or on the mainland.
Leed sings at major special events in the islands, as well as performing in Hawaii’s showrooms large and small. She performs every Saturday at the International Marketplace, where her range of talents is displayed. She dances the hula, plays exotic instruments as she sings the songs of the islands and accompanies other singers, as they offer familiar tunes of Hawaii as well as mainland favorites.
Like Aretha Franklin, Leed is that woman of a certain age, whom fans say has talent not faded by time. As Franklin’s performance, and range of voice in her senior years, was lauded on the occasion of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first African American President of the United States, that same range of voice, fills the walkways of the International Marketplace for three hours each Saturday by Leed. Her concerts are free, to tourists who sit in appreciation of watching a master at work, just as a master will sing at the Grammys at a whole different place. But for both women it becomes an avenue for their respective entertainment homes to be recognized for the contributions they have made to the world of music.
Three weeks ago this reporter watched once more, with fascination, Melveen Leed perform on the stage of the International Marketplace. Her audience clapped and cheered, as voices around could be heard to exclaim how exciting her performance can be, like an entertainer half her age. A gentleman from California whispered to his friends nearby, “I have been watching and listening to Leed for more than forty years, and that woman never seems to age.” The audience predominated by seniors agreed as they clapped and cheered for one of their own in the winter of life, still making a difference in song.
In 2011 Aretha Franklin and Melveen Leed, women in their 60’s, will be recognized for cementing the memories of their music as treasured by fans through the years. Franklin will be honored on February 13 for her lifetime of achievement in music. Leed will be honored as well in 2011 at a 50th anniversary celebration of her professional career, that began in earnest with her performance with the greats like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette as fans plan to recognize her musical achievements as well.