Press Release • January 22, 2020

The Philly POPS pays R-E-S-P-E-C-T to one of music’s greatest icons—The Queen of Soul—February 14–16, 2020 at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. ARETHA: RESPECT covers Aretha Franklin’s incredible career with a 70-piece Philly POPS orchestra.

This performance will feature returning fan-favorite Capathia Jenkins from 2015’s Classic Soul concert series, along with the POPS debut of GRAMMY-nominated R&B artist Ryan Shaw. This performance will be conducted by guest conductor Byron Stripling, the recently appointed Principal Pops Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to having performed with Aretha herself, Byron previously performed with the POPS in 2019’s Uptown Nights, a shining tribute to the swing music of Harlem’s heyday, and 2017’s Ella, Louis & All That Jazz, which honored two of the greatest jazz icons of all time. Byron’s power and enthusiasm make him both a renowned jazz trumpeter and in-demand conductor. When last in Philadelphia, Byron also visited schools as part of POPS in Schools. Byron gave masterclasses to School District of Philadelphia students and sat in on All-City Jazz rehearsals—helping give his perspective and experience to students. For this concert series, Byron will take part in other POPS in Schools programming.

Also performing in this concert is The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir—which performs annually with the POPS for A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season. With Aretha’s gospel background and success as a gospel singer, particularly her landmark Amazing Grace album, the STGC will enrich the performance with their signature energy and soul, accompanying Capathia, Ryan, and the 70-piece orchestra.

As a child, Aretha Franklin learned to play piano by ear, and she started singing at her local church in Detroit, MI. Her father, a traveling minister and preacher, took her on the road with him, bringing her to sing at various churches. As she made her way through the gospel circuit, her career took off and notoriety grew—with Dinah Washington reportedly telling Quincy Jones that “Aretha was the ‘next one.’” Her career grew to include genre-defining hits like “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Philly POPS Artistic Director for Jazz Terell Stafford was fortunate enough to meet Aretha and to perform with her several times. His first time playing with her, he played alongside Byron Stripling on the Rosie O’Donnell Show.

“Her voice was so special. I don’t think I’ve heard a voice like it – the resonance, the power, her vibrato, her delivery, everything, she was the perfect package,” said Terell. “She set the bar very high and left a legacy for everyone to follow. She taught the next generation of musicians to keep music in your heart and not in your head – keep it all in your heart and in your soul.”

ARETHA: RESPECT runs February 14–16 at The Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts.

Tickets are available at

ARETHA: RESPECT is part of The Philly POPS Legacy Series, sponsored by Citizens Bank.

About Capathia Jenkins
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. 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. She returned to Broadway in The Look of Love and was critically acclaimed for her performances of the Bacharach/David hits. Ms. Jenkins then created the roles of ‘The Washing Machine’ in Caroline, Or Change and ‘Frieda May’ in Martin Short-Fame Becomes Me where she sang ‘Stop the Show’ and brought the house down every night. 

In 2007, she went back to Off-Broadway and starred in (mis) Understanding Mammy-The Hattie McDaniel Story for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Most recently she was seen in Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Her television credits include 30 Rock, the PracticeLaw & Order SVU, the SopranosLaw & Order. She can be seen in the 2012 film Musical Chairs and in NBC’s live performance of The Wiz. She can be heard on the film soundtracks  NineChicagoLegally Blonde 2

About Ryan Shaw
Ryan Shaw is a three-time GRAMMY nominated artist. He recently appeared as Judas at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the U.S. premiere of the critically acclaimed London/Regent’s Park’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which won the Olivier for Best Musical Revival. He has starred as 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. As a recording artist, Ryan has released three solo GRAMMY-nominated projects:  2008’s This is Ryan Shaw on Columbia Records, 2011’s It Gets Better, and 2014’s Real Love on Dynotone Records.  He has toured the world and shared the stage with such artists as Van Halen, Bonnie Raitt, Joss Stone, John Legend, B.B. King, Bruce Hornsby and Jill Scott, to name a few. On television, Ryan has been a guest artist on The Ellen DeGeneres ShowEllen’s Really Big ShowLast Call with Carson Daly, and The Martha Stewart Show. His music has been featured on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance and ABC’s Dancing with The StarsGrey’s Anatomy, and Lincoln Heights. His music has also been featured in the films My Blueberry Nights and Bride Wars, as well as on the Sex and the City soundtrack. ​

As a concert soloist, Ryan made his Radio City Music Hall debut at the Dream Concert benefit to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. His Carnegie Hall appearances include Elton John and Bernie Taupin Tribute, A Celebration of The African American Cultural Legacy, curated by Jessye Norman, and a Nat King Cole centennial concert with the New York Pops.  His concert schedule also 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 orchestras throughout North America.  Ryan continues to be a return featured special guest with the Houston Symphony, as well as performing with the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philly Pops, Utah Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Utah Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Helena Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Anchorage Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and numerous others.

About The African Episcopal Church of St Thomas Gospel Choir
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir (STGC) is from the Historic African Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, where the Reverend Canon Martini Shaw is the Rector. The STGC currently consists of 60 spirit-filled, energetic, singers, ministers, and musicians of all ages and backgrounds. The choir’s membership represents more than 10 different area churches.

The STGC shares their music ministry at over 100 services, programs, concerts, and celebrations of all kinds every year. In 2013, STGC was named “The Best Regional Choir” in Verizon’s Music Competition, How Sweet The Sound, and the choir performed to a sold-out audience at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. In 2015, the STGC won “Traditional CD of the Year” and Walt Blocker won “Producer of the Year” at the The Rhythm of Gospel Music Awards held in Memphis. Locally and nationally, the STGC has received numerous awards and recognition, including the PHL LIVE Center Stage competition for “Best in Gospel Music” for which the choir was recognized by the Philadelphia City Council.

STGC has more than five musical recordings that showcases their various styles and love of all music from original service mass music to soul stirring gospel music. The most recent is Part 1 of their first Holiday Music EP now available.

The STGC regularly performs several genres of music including gospel, classical, Motown, pop favorites, and classics such as Stevie Wonder, U2, Gladys Knight, and Elton John, and will join the POPS in 2020 for its tribute to Aretha Franklin. STGC has appeared in the Lee Daniels movie soundtrack of The Woodsman and the English version of the international cartoon Kikoriki, as well as several plays and other musicals.

The St. Thomas Gospel Choir has performed in San Jose and Limon in Costa Rica and completed an 11-day tour in Rome, Venice, and Florence, Italy in June 2018. The STGC will be singing for the Inauguration Ceremony for the Mayor and City Council this January at The Met Philadelphia and also will be the featured Artist at the May Festival in Cincinnati in 2020 with the Cincinnati Orchestra.

About Conductor Byron Stripling
A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally. As soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Stripling has performed frequently under the baton of Keith Lockhart, as well as on the PBS television special, “Evening at Pops,” with conductors John Williams and Mr. Lockhart. Currently, Stripling serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning Columbus Jazz Orchestra. In January 2020, Stripling was announced as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor.

Since his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, Stripling has emerged as one of America’s most popular symphony pops guest artists, having performed with over 100 orchestras around the world including the Boston Pops, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and The Philly POPS. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world. 

Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials, TV theme songs including “20/20,” CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies. 

Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, and Buck Clayton in addition to The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and The GRP All Star Big Band. 

A resident of Ohio, Stripling lives in the country with his wife, former dancer, writer and poet, Alexis and their beautiful daughters. 

About Artistic Director For Jazz Terell Stafford

Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player; he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well-defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads. 

Since the mid-1990s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Stafford, with the Hamilton- Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY-nominated album From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums including his own, BrotherLee Love, Celebrating Lee Morgan, which received a 47th Annual NAACP Image Award nomination. His most recent album, Family Feeling, is a BCM&D release. 

Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, Artistic Director for Jazz for The Philly POPS, and Managing and Artistic Director of The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (PJOP). Stafford is renowned in the jazz world as an educator, performer, and leader and has received countless award nominations and accolades. 

Terell Stafford was born in Miami and raised in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland. He received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a Masters of Music from Rutgers University in 1993. 

About The Philly POPS Legacy Series
The Philly POPS Legacy Series is one of The Philly POPS signature brands. The Legacy Series includes performances of American popular music from the early 20th century, including swing, big band, ragtime, and pieces from the Great American Songbook.

Through the Legacy Series, The Philly POPS celebrates artists who are representative of the formative years of American popular music, as well this music’s strong connections to Philadelphia and the community. Past Philly POPS Legacy Series shows have included The Carole King SongbookElvis: The King’s SongbookSinatra & FriendsLeslie Odom, Jr: Celebrating The POPS 40th Anniversary, and At The Hop! A Philadelphia Story at The Birth of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

The 2020 Philly POPS Legacy Series is sponsored by Citizens Bank.