'Respect': Chicago artists talks about working with Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson

New movie 'Respect" tells life story of Aretha Franklin
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fans are remembering Aretha Franklin, who died three years ago Monday, as they see the new movie "Respect" that tells her life story.

Hosea Sanders talks to a Chicago artist who was The Queen Of Soul's final musical partner and now works with Jennifer Hudson, who stars in the film.

For years Chicago's Fred Nelson was Franklin's alter-ego on stage. As her long-time musical director, the two became especially close.

"We talking to each other without opening our mouths, and I'm just like, 'I got you,'" Nelson recalled. "When she hit the stage, Hosea, the whole stage just change all the way up until the very end, and we would stand there in amazement."

Nelson was already a highly-respected industry powerhouse, who'd worked with a number of musical heavyweights. But when he met Franklin, she claimed him as her own and didn't make a move without him. They traveled the world together until her death three years ago.

Now, in the film "Respect," she is being celebrated like never before with Jennifer Hudson starring as the "Queen of Soul."

"It was almost as though she was transformed. She was Jennifer but she was Aretha," Nelson said. "It's like Aretha's still here, her music's everywhere."

This, from a man who's led the orchestra for both musical giants.

"Jennifer wants it right, she never lets up until it's right. She's as sweet as can be. She's probably one of the sweetest artists I've ever worked with," Nelson said.

Nelson said that comes from the church background, something all three of them have in common.

"Aretha sang from the same place she grew up in church, I grew up in church, that was immediately the connection we could feel each other," Nelson said. "I feel blessed, that's my final thought, I'm blessed."
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