CHAKA KHAN

ALEX

Say the name "Chaka" and most folks in the know instantly think of a woman who has made an indelible and lasting impression on the music scene of the past three decades. First, as the lead singer of the massively successful R&B, funk and pop band Rufus, then as a solo artist in her own right who has influenced an entire generation of female vocalists (think Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Ledisi, Maysa among others). Like Aretha, like Joni, like Tina, a first name will do. For there's only one Chaka, woman of fire, possessed of a powerhouse, unforgettably distinctive trademark vocal style who sings with unrelenting passion, honest emotion and authenticity; no matter what the song, you can count on Chaka to deliver with realness, every time.
 
Seldom has that been more evident than on the aptly-named FUNK THIS, in some ways a return to her musical roots with Rufus, a glorious collaboration with the super hit-making team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It's the album that many a Chaka fan will instantly say they've been waiting for, a tough 'n' earthy showcase for the gritty, in-your-face sound that first attracted the solid and loyal audience that has been with Chaka "through the fire" (also the title of her autobiography), through the ups and downs and ins and outs of a career filled with accomplishment, achievement and, as she herself admits, its share of highs and lows.

Distinct from recent recordings – such as the critically-acclaimed "Classikhan," the 2004 album, partly recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, that included songs from her years growing up in Chicago – FUNK THIS embodies the essence of Chaka's fiery approach to music, bringing together a selection of her own compositions and collaborations with fresh readings of classic tunes originated by longtime musical pal Prince (Sign O The Times), one of Chaka's musical heroines Joni Mitchell ("Ladies' Man") and Jimi Hendrix ("Castles Made Of Sand"). There's a brilliant revisit of two Rufus classics – "Pack'd My Bags," and "You Got The Love"– fused into an unforgettable medley and for good measure, "Disrespectful," a hardcore duet with superstar Mary J. Blige.

FUNK THIS is an important new addition to the extensive Khan catalog of nearly a dozen solo albums, spanning almost thirty five years of recording and performing worldwide. An eight-time Grammy winner, Chaka Khan can truly claim the title 'renaissance woman.' Her distinctive vocal style has influenced and impacted a whole generation of hit making contemporary artists and her commitment as a humanitarian and philanthropist has continued to thrive through the work of her own Chaka Khan Foundation.

Growing up in Chicago during the 1950s and '60s, Chaka – born Yvette Marie Stevens – developed an early awareness of the creative and political movements around her. She formed her first singing group when she was 11 and joined the Black Panthers in her late teens, heading up their free breakfast program for kids. By age 20, she had found the perfect outlet for her creative energy as the singer for Rufus, and five years later, as a breakout solo artist. Known for a catalog of classic hits: "Tell Me Something Good," "Sweet Thing," "Once You Get Started," "Everlasting Love," "Do You Love What You Feel," "Ain't Nobody," "I'm Every Woman," "I Feel For You," "Through The Fire," "Clouds", "I'll Be Good To You", and "Whatcha Gonna Do For Me," Chaka has worked in practically every genre of music from pop, R&B, rock, disco, world music and fusion to jazz, rap, hip-hop, and classical. The diverse list of distinguished collaborators with whom Chaka has recorded includes but is not limited to Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Ashford & Simpson, Rod Stewart, Manhattan Transfer, Dizzy Gillespie, Gladys Knight, Joe Henderson, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Lenny White, Bobby McFerrin, Melle Mel, Lionel Hampton, Eric Clapton, Fourplay, Peter Cetera, Queen Latifah, Brandy, Tamia, Kanye West, Shaggy, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, Ry Cooder, Bruce Hornsby, Guru, Phil Collins, De La Soul, Michael MacDonald, Steve Winwood, and, Miles Davis. Emotive vocals have been the trademark of Ms. Khan who has graced the soundtracks of several movies including "Clockers," "Set It Off," "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar," "Miami Vice," "White Knights," "Moscow on the Hudson," "Disappearing Acts," "Waiting to Exhale," and "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown," and the recent Tyler Perry hit "Madea's Family Reunion".

Winner of the 1995 London's Best Actress Capitol Radio Listener's Poll Award Recipient for "Mama, I Want to Sing", a Diamond Life Awardee of Excellence from the International Association of African-American Music (IAAAM), recipient of the "Soul Train's Lena Horne Lady of Soul Career Achievement Award", declared a "power mover" by Vibe Magazine, and given the date October 19th as Chaka Khan Day by the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, Chaka's impact on popular culture is undeniable spanning almost thirty-five years of recording and performing worldwide."

A renowned proponent of 'old school' soul music, her energy, dynamism, and passion through live performances for over three decades, Chaka has brought her special brand of vocal magic to audiences the world over. Her prowess as a credited creative force behind her impressive catalog of solo albums is one that is held in high regard by her peers: executive producer for the 1992 Grammy-winning "The Woman I Am" and Chaka's 1998 album "Come 2 My House" featuring a number of Khan compositions. Chaka's range as an artist is both timeless and limitless as demonstrated in her ability to interpret a range of enduring songs associated with artists such as Peggy Lee, Patsy Cline, Shirley Bassey, Oscar Brown Jr. and Lena Horne, captured on her 2004 release "Classikhan," recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

But it's away from the stage and the recording studio that Chaka's light has continued to promote a need for change. Her inspiring autobiography "Through The Fire" was acclaimed for its soul-bearing candor and honesty and her commitment to women and children at risk is seen through her countless hours of dedication to the Chaka Khan Foundation. Formed in 1999, the Foundations' initiative has involved a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School district mentoring 5th and 6th grade students who are college-bound. Of her work with the Foundation and her other philanthropic endeavors which include participation in numerous charity benefits devoted to conquering AIDS and HIV prevention, Chaka simply says, "It's time to build up and time to give back".

Entrepreneurial in spirit, Chaka's entertainment company Chaka Khan Enterprises is definitely a family affair. Her mother, Sandra Coleman, works as her business manager; and her sister, Tammy McCrary, is her personal manager; while her daughter Milini (who enjoyed success as the lead singer for the group Pretty in Pink) has a burgeoning solo career and her son Damien is also an aspiring record producer. In addition to the Chaka Khan Foundation, Chaka is also responsible for her own line of chocolates ("Chakalates"), sold in Neiman Marcus Stores and the guiding force behind her own Earthsong record label.

Honored by BET with a much-deserved "Lifetime Achievement Award," Chaka's enduring spirit and passion for music and life have endeared her to music lovers the world over. "Music has always been the background theme to life," she states, "and people are profoundly affected by what they hear. I think I always knew I'd forever be doing this. It's what I was put it for. It's always been kind of like a ministry – now it's a conscious one," she says referring to her own recent life changes. "Every song on this new album has a message, an in-depth message which can be applied to many things in life. Every word is heartfelt and I didn't sing anything I didn't feel." The provocatively-titled FUNK THIS is, she says, "the album I've been promising my fans for the past ten years." And the kind of funk on the CD? "It's funk of many kinds with a wide range of different feelings. It's soulful, soul-felt and from my soul." That about says it all!
………. (more bio info on weblink)

 

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