Chaka Khan, A Birthday Tribute to the Queen of Funk-Soul

Image courtesy of Centric.
They tell me I’ve loved Chaka Khan since I was a baby.  Whenever her music was played, I’d apparently get excited, get up in my crib and start dancing.  Even then I was enchanted by this fiery, bold as love, soul sista.  As I got older, my love, respect, and admiration for her and her talent only grew.  She is and will always be one of my all-time favorite singers.   
Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall/For a chance to be with you/I’d gladly risk it all/Through the fire/Through whatever, come what may/For a chance at loving you/I’d take it all the way/Right down to the wire/Even through the fire ~ Chaka Khan, “Through The Fire,” I Feel For You (1984)
I’ll never forget the first time I got to see Chaka Khan live.  It was late November 2011 at The Birchmere in VA.  I was with my partner, mother, and grandmother.  And was it an experience!  While I knew Chaka would bring it like no other, I had no idea the show would impact so deeply.  Within the first few minutes, I was in tears.  Entranced.  Enraptured.  Captivated.  Spellbound.  I was emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed.  Here I was, sitting in the audience being serenaded by someone who I loved all my life.  Her soulful wail pierced my core and I was rendered helpless.  I surrendered to the Queen of Funk-Soul.

Chaka took us on a musical journey, singing a wondrous selection of her greatest hits and covers of tunes by some of her favorite artists.  The concert was as eclectic and vast as her rich catalog.  She sounded and looked better than ever.  It was quite clear to me that Chaka could put many of her peers (past, present, and future) to shame after this concert.  I didn’t want it end (and neither did anyone else).  It was musical bliss.  We could’ve easily spent the rest of the night calling Chaka and her band back for more encores.  But that’s what dreams are made of, right? 

Make my journey, make it short in space/Let me lose this hardness that I got now, Lord/Water, wash away all traces of hate/I will do what you say/If you just show me how, river/…Roll me through the rushes like Moses/Roll me through the rushes/Just like Moses on the Nile ~ Chaka Khan, “Roll Me Through The Rushes,” Chaka (1978)

2013 marks two major milestones for Chaka Khan:  her 60th birthday (March 23, 2013) and 40 years in the entertainment industry.  Chaka will be unveiling a series of projects to commemorate these milestones.  Following the release of the March 16th “Stars Tribute” issue of Billboard Magazine, Chaka launched the 100 Days of Chaka campaign.  Introduced via an Augmented Reality app, the 100 Day of Chaka campaign “marks the 100 days from her birthday (March 23) to the anniversary of the release of her first recorded album with Rufus, Rufus (July 1, 1973) 40 years ago. This timeline will highlight daily, a series of historic moments in Chaka’s career, mixed with celebratory current events.  The 100 Days of Chaka culminates with the release of The iKhan Project: Alive! The Commemorative Edition, in stores July 2″ (Soul Talkin’ With Chaka).  

Later this year, Chaka will release The iKhan Project: Jazz, an album produced by renowned musician and composer Robert Glasper.  Fans can also look out for the I’m Every Woman Tour; television specials; an updated version of Through The Fire, Chaka’s memoir; the relaunch of; the relaunch of Chakalates, her signature gourmet chocolates; the launch of her Khana Sutra candles, and much, much more.  I must say, 2013 is gearing up to be a celebration fit for a legend!  Chaka deserves every moment of it (and then some).

A mama’s cryin’/’Cause another young man has gone and died/He’s not some statistic/He’s another awesome destiny denied/So I’ve got to stand tall/I’m gonna live a super life/For the rest of my life/I’m gonna live a super life/Super life, super life, yeah ~ Chaka Khan, “Super Life,” Funk This (2007)

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary, Chaka Khan!  Thank you for sharing your spirit and your boundless gifts with us.  We will forever be moved.  Here’s to a fabulous 2013 and beyond! 

Related Post:
Day 47: Black Music Month – Chaka Khan

Day 47: Black Music Month – Chaka Khan

When Chaka Khan burst onto the scene as the lead singer of Rufus back in the 70s–the world was never quite the same. Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rock, Gospel, Pop–you name it she can sing it (effortlessly). Her inimitable, stratospheric vocals, unique style, and stage presence still leave audiences captivated to this day. A beautiful singer, songwriter, and musician–she’s truly one of a kind. And most certainly–iconic and legendary. Happy Black Music Month!!! 😀

You Ain’t Got No Home Buddah!!!

Funny as it sounds, that’s how it feels. Traveling, traveling. It’s a good thing. But it’s very tiring. In the last two-and-a-half months, I’ve been to Seattle, Montreal, DC, San Jose/Mountain View, and Rochester. Mostly for job interviews. I went to Montreal for a week in April to attend the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (more about that later).

I’m heading back to DC for another job interview next week (YAY I get to go home!). Then back to Rochester. And the following week I may be heading to Pittsfield, MA for another interview. It’s crazy. As soon as I drop my bags and get comfortable it’s time to pack those bags and board the plane again!

As I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to attend the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montreal back in April. This is the annual conferernce for the Human Computer Interaction community. For those who are wondering, Human Computer Interaction (or HCI) is a field of computing which focuses on the interaction between people and computers. One of its main goals is to improve the interaction between people and computers by developing computing systems that efficient, effective, easy to use, and easy to understand. And most importantly, that computing systems meet the needs of the people who use them. It’s a multidisciplinary field that depends heavily on computer science, information science, cognitive science, anthropology, ergonomics, psychology, and sociology to name a few.

At the conference, there were several presentations, workshops, courses, and discussions devoted to recent innovations and developments within the HCI community. It was a wonderful experience for networking and learning about what other students, researchers, and practitioners are doing in the field. I was one of several student volunteers there. And I had a blast! Got to party a little bit. Got to meet a lot of new people. And I got to talk with several employers about possible job opportunities in their HCI departments. I even got to attend hospitality events in some of the local hotels sponsored by employers such as Microsoft, Google, eBay, and IBM. The Conference is held in a different location each year and usually lasts about five days. Next year it will be in San Jose, CA. I’d really love to go next year. But it all depends upon the money! I guess if I start saving now, I might be able to make it.

Other than that, I’m chillin’ like a villain up in Da ROC. I’ve been listening to a lot of Chaka Khan and Phyllis Hyman lately. They are two of my all-time favorite vocalists. Both of whom I’ve been listening to and loving since I was very young.

Chaka Khan recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards. Much deserved and long overdue if you ask me. I’ve been bumping the following albums: Chaka, I Feel For You, Come 2 My House, Classikhan, The Best of Rufus & Chaka Khan, and Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan, Vol. 1. Word on the street is that she’s been working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on a new album. Sounds like it’s going to be hot! I’ll be first in line to get it when it drops.

Phyllis Hyman is yet another consummate artist who never received the acclaim and accolades she rightly deserved. I’ve been playing the following over and over again: Phyllis Hyman, You Know How To Love Me, Living All Alone, The Prime of My Life, and The Legacy of Phyllis Hyman. It would be nice if she were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame or received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame even. (If Britney Spears has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, why not?) Though she’s no longer with us, her legacy continues to live on. Now that I think of it, it would also be nice if Arista/BMG would re-release all of her earlier albums from 1977 – 1983. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s an audience out here who craves them. I wrote a poem in tribute to Phyllis a few years back. Since her birthday is approaching, I may put it up. She would’ve been 57 this year.

Until later, hope you all have a great weekend!