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Taken from The Sun Herald (April 26, 2017)

‘Ain’t nobody’ going to bring it to South Mississippi like Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan to bring 40 years of hits to Biloxi on Friday

by Jeff Clark

Chaka Khan returns to Biloxi on Friday for a show at the Beau Rivage.
Chaka Khan: Courtesy

After more than 40 years, Chaka Khan may have outgrown her moniker “Queen of Funk.”

And it’s not because someone else has claimed the throne, but because labeling Khan as only “the Queen of Funk” limits what she does. In the years since she joined the funk band Rufus in the early 1970s, she’s recorded albums of dance music, pop and even jazz. “The Queen of Music” may be a better nickname for her.

Khan returns to Biloxi for an 8 p.m. show Friday at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets start at $39.95 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.

After joining Rufus, Khan had a string of hits, including the Stevie Wonder-penned “Tell Me Something Good,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Feel For You.” She has also been awarded 10 Grammys during her career.

Q: I hear you are in the studio working on a new album.

A: I am. I’m working on an album of Joni Mitchell songs. Joni is my girl and has been so a long time and she’s such a great songwriter. I’m doing an album of her material, done my way. It’s about me bringing my flavor to her songs. I will have some extra garlic and hot sauce. I hope to have a couple of tracks ready to be released soon.

Q: You’ve recorded songs by everyone from The Bee Gees to Jimi Hendrix to Glen Ballard and Dianne Warren. Do you enjoy doing covers?

A: Absolutely I do. I try to find songs that I love and then bring my own style to them.

Q: You’ve been an activist and a feminist for years, from your time with the Black Panthers to your feminist anthem “I’m Every Woman.” Are you happy to see how women have come together in the current political climate?

A: This is something that the past couple of generations have not done — they have not taken to the streets and made their voices heard. It’s great to see women, young and old, rallying together to share their message.

Q: You’ve worked with some great producers — Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Quincy Jones, Arif Mardin and even the great David Foster. A couple of years ago, you cut a track with Jeffrey Osborne that was produced by George Duke, who has since died. Did you like working with George?

A: I love George. We used to tour together. We went out on the road together many times playing jazz songs. He was a great producer and musician. I miss George.

Q: In 1984, you created, in my opinion, the perfect song in “I Feel for You” written by Prince, produced by Arif Mardin and featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Grandmaster Melle rapping. Are you still surprised by the longevity of the song?

A: I am very surprised. People really love that song. To me, what’s really interesting is that it was one of the first songs that mixed rap and singing. No one was doing that at the time.

Q: I think some people attach you to that song and nothing else. For me, it’s always been “Ain’t Nobody.”

A: I love that song and we love to play it live. It came out when break dancing was pretty well established and it was used on the soundtrack for the movie “Breakin.’’’ It’s such a great dance song.

Q: Through the years you maintained a friendship with Prince. He produced your 1999 album “Come 2 My House.” What was he like as a producer?

A: He was everything you’ve ever heard — he was a perfectionist, he was all of that. Prince was a genius in the studio. The thing about that record is that we cut it in 14 days. We made it in two weeks. We trusted one another and because of that, we were able to make that record relatively quickly. I’m still waiting for it to get its proper release.


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