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Taken from tucson.com (Oct 15, 2016)

The long-awaited return of Chaka Khan

by Cathalena E. Burch, Arizona Daily Star

By UAPresents
Funk royalty Chaka Khan opens UAPresents 2016-17 season Friday at Centennial Hall with a concert that digs into her 40-plus-year music career.

Queen of funk Chaka Khan will open the 2016-17 UA Presents season on Friday with a concert that digs deep into her 40-plus-year music career.

It will be her first Tucson show in years; as far as she remembers, she and her early band Rufus and Chaka Khan played Tucson back in the day.

We caught up with her early last month to talk about her concert and a tribute she is planning to honor her late friend Prince. She had just returned to performing after a stint in rehab in July for addiction to prescription medications and while she seemed fairly reserved during the interview, Khan said she was feeling great and enjoying performing again.

Her show on Friday will survey her 40-plus-year career, dipping into her Rufus days (“Tell Me Something Good,” “Ain’t Nobody”), her early 1980s solo period (“I’m Every Woman”) and the dozen years from 1984-96 (“Love Of A Lifetime,” “Higher Love,” “Through the Fire” and the Prince-penned “I Feel For You”) that cemented her place as a dominant voice and star in pop music.

Khan, 63, is in the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame and was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once with Rufus and Chaka Khan and this year as a solo artist.

Do the messages of your songs still resonate with you?

“Yes, a lot of them do. Some songs I had to grow into over the years, but all of that’s been done. It’s now a matter of performing the songs and keeping it new.”

How do you keep it new?

“Well you can’t. But I try to do a little spin on the arrangements to keep them fresh for me. And sometimes just update a little bit to make them more palatable for today’s ear.”

How has your voice changed over the years?

“I think my vibrato has slowed down a bit. I’ve still got my range. I’ve got a little more huskiness going on.”

You’re recording a tribute album to Joni Mitchell. What’s that about?

“I’m still working on it because I’m doing a lot of shows in between so it’s taking a little while to get it together. We’ve got several songs down already, but these are just my favorite songs by Joni. I’ve been a friend and a fan for a long, long, long time, and I’ve been wanting to cover my favorite songs. I’ve put them in my shows, but I wanted to record some of the stuff she does in my way.”

What was her reaction?

“She was cool. ... I sent her a sample. I’m sure she’s cool. … I may do a couple of songs (in Tucson).”

Have you decided what sort of tribute you will do for Prince? (Prince died in April of an overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.)

“I will have my own personal tribute sometime next year when I’m ready.”

His death hit you pretty hard and some say that it was the catalyst for your own rehab this summer.

“You can say that’s accurate. I am doing great, thank you.”

How deep do you go in your catalogue?

“Pretty deep. Rufus up until today. We do the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.”

Any final thoughts?

“I would just like to thank all the fans in Tucson that I’ve neglected to see all these years, to no fault of my own. I’m just happy to be able to finally come there. It’s wonderful.”


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