Southfield, Mich. Aretha Franklin threw a party Friday for dozens of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, sharing soul food and memories of New Orleans with evacuees at a hotel in suburban Detroit.
About 40 people from the Gulf Coast are making their home at a hotel in Southfield. Franklin, who lives in nearby Bloomfield Hills, said she wanted to do her part to help by hosting the event.
"It's the right thing to do," said Franklin, who was planning another dinner at the hotel tonight. "Hopefully some of the other performers in town will follow suit."
Before dinner, the Motown legend talked with some of the evacuees, posed for snapshots and sang a song titled "Jesus is Waiting" to help welcome them.
The Queen of Soul said her first visit to New Orleans was in 1962. She fondly remembered watching Mardi Gras celebrations, shopping and eating many good meals there in the years that followed.
The visit from Franklin was a thrill for Antonia Washington, 50, who is among those staying at the hotel.
"Her appearance here meant so much," Washington said. "I never thought I would be here to see her."