Inside Aretha Franklin's Big Birthday Bash

03/26/2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Aretha Franklin's N.Y.C. Birthday Party
Aretha Franklin
Charles Sykes/AP
When it's Aretha Franklin's birthday, you don't just sing any old tune.

At the Queen of Soul's swanky, star-studded 69th birthday party in New York City late Friday night – where Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson and Tony Bennett topped the guest list – revelers joined Dennis Edwards of The Temptations in wishing her well with a personalized version of "My Girl."

It went a little something like this: "I guess … you'll say … what can make me feel this way …. Aretha, Aretha, Aretha ..." And then the woman of the hour took the mic.

As guests screamed and applauded, the slimmed-down Franklin sang with Edwards for the delighted crowd, and then showed off some dance moves while blowing out the candles on her two-tier, flower-covered birthday cake. The song for that part of the evening? "Respect," of course.



After months of concern for the music legend due to a still-undisclosed ailment and surgery, Franklin (wearing Naeem Khan) looked healthy and happy at the bash, which featured several performances.

As one partygoer put it, "Detroit took over New York City this evening!"

And so did the famous faces. Also in attendance: Clive Davis, Rev. Al Sharpton, Gayle King, Star Jones, Michael Imperioli and Wendy Williams.

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