Because you haven’t read enough about Aretha Franklin’s visit to Western New York, here’s a story from local watercolor painter Jody Ziehm, whose years-long quest to give her 2009 watercolor portrait to the singer finally succeeded on Tuesday afternoon:
While watching the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, Ziehm was struck by Franklin’s performance of “America,” which inspired her to paint a vivid portrait of the singer wearing her now-famous inauguration hat, which, at last check, had 90,791 fans on Facebook.
“My heart was in my throat when I saw Aretha Franklin in this historic moment,” Ziehm said. “When she started to sing ‘my country ‘tis of thee’ there was a slight hesitation in her voice. The enormity of that moment moved me to tears. I will never forget it.”
Ziehm tried for years to contact Franklin in order to give her the painting to no avail. But ahead of Tuesday’s concert at Artpark, she tried one last time and was able to arrange for Franklin to receive the painting before her show. Because of a missed phone call, the two never met, but Franklin left a message on Ziehm’s voicemail thanking her for the portrait.
In the end, Ziehm said, she’s delighted that her portrait finally made its way to its rightful owner.
“Maybe some day I’ll get to hug her, but I think really this is what was meant to be,” she said. If she’d actually met Franklin face to face, she added, “I probably would have fainted or something, or said something dumb.”