Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Broadcaster Tom Joyner attends the 47th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 5, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
Tom wrote about his relationship with Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul.
The Queen and I go way back. I have been a fan of hers from the beginning. How could I not be? She literally took R&B music to another stratosphere and since I play the hits, you know the Queen was in heavy rotation.
I met her face to face for the first time when I was the host of the Ebony Jet Showcase, an interview-focused TV show produced by Johnson Publishing. Mr. Johnson gave her a call and I went to her house to tape an installment of the show. She welcomed me into her Southfield, Michigan home, something very unusual for the Queen.
But if John H. Johnson called and asked you…it’s pretty hard to say no.
Let’s just say the Ebony Jet Showcase wasn’t run like a fine-tooth comb in the beginning. I was a radio DJ doing television with no experience. In fact, I got that TV gig because I promised Mr. Johnson when I came to work at his radio station, WJPC, I would make our radio show #1. He said if I lived up to my end of the bargain, he would give me my own TV show. I did what I said I would do, and he kept his word, of course.
So, the production staff and I were in her way for at least 10 hours and we really hit it off. She liked me so much that she asked me to stay for dinner. She tried to tempt me by telling me she was deep-frying some ribs!
“Um…I’m a vegetarian,” I said. “Okay, I’ll fix you a salad with lots of ranch dressing,” was her response.
She went on to make dinner for me and my crew of 20. She was so gracious. Sure, Mr. Johnson asked her to sacrifice a couple of hours for me, and those two hours turned into an all-day thing. She went way beyond what any of us expected by making us feel welcome and serving a huge home-cooked meal that me and the crew would never forget. Who does that? I’ve been in love and awe of The Queen of Soul ever since.