After Aretha's success in the movie The Blues Brothers, she was open to other acting possibilities. An exciting opportunity came when the producers of a Broadway musical about Mahalia Jackson approached Aretha to play the lead. Aretha was very interested and she signed a contract to begin work on the show in May 1984. Sing, Mahalia, Sing was scheduled to begin touring after opening in New York. When the time came to begin rehearsals in New York City, however, Aretha did not arrive.
Aretha claimed that her fear of flying made it impossible for her to get to New York in time. Though she tried to get there using a tour bus, she began the trip too late. In any event, Aretha was unable to participate in Sing, Mahalia, Sing. The producers sued her for breaking their contract, and a court in New York State agreed. Aretha was forced to pay more than $200,000 in production costs for a show that never happened!
This was the beginning of a series of financial problems. The Internal Revenue Service sued Aretha for unpaid taxes during her years with Atlantic Records. She sued Atlantic for not paying her adequate royalties on her recordings. In reaction to problems with New York State, Aretha canceled a series of sold-out Carnegie Hall performances. It was a difficult time for Aretha, who was distracted by her father's illness and death. Eventually most of the financial matters were settled without going to court.