Chaka Khan Live in Atlanta: A Concert Recap by Christopher A. Daniel

Chaka Khan Live In Atlanta August 2016

Legendary vocalist Chaka Khan still got it! The multiple Grammy-winning music icon, songwriter, philanthropist, entrepreneur and best-selling author returned to the stage earlier this month at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, her first live performance since announcing in July that she was voluntarily entering a treatment program for an addiction to prescription painkillers.

In 75 minutes, it was hard to tell that the Chicago-born Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee had been away or had been dealing with personal matters in the first place. The Queen blessed with her unprecedented, piping hot siren vocal range hadn’t missed a step. Khan graced the staged in a black, heavily sequined Stevie Nicks-styled ensemble, coming out to a euphoric packed house to the percussive Rufus classic “Do You Love What You Feel.”

Chaka Khan Live in Atlanta

“I Feel For You,” her biggest solo charted single to date, came right after. The Prince-penned hit opened with the song’s signature staccato refraining of her name (of course) before allowing Khan to relaxingly deliver the verses. The diva responsible for 70 million records worldwide mellowed out on “Papillion (Hot Butterfly)” and seamlessly broke into “What You Gonna Do For Me.” The same semi-medley occurred soon after: the first few scales of “Stay” followed by “Sweet Thing.”

A virtuoso of virtually every genre of music, Khan, at one point in the show fanning herself with her silky, Swarovski crystal-laden, Gerard Ringuette-designed Papillion fan, married her sensual delivery to hints of contralto in another Rufus ballad, “Everlasting Love.” The wrath of Khan sent the audience on a “come to Jesus” moment when she sat on a stool with just piano accompaniment, belting out the gospel-styled ballad “Love Me Still.”

tpp-chaka kahn -7Midway through the show, the multi-hyphenated iconic songstress and former Black Panther gave the drummer some (literally). Ronald Brunner, Jr. gave an electrifying drum solo. Keyboardist Tracy Carter scatted over his lush keystrokes. Guitarist Rob Bacon plugged in the robotic talkbox on top of picking some funky licks from his axe. Background singers Toni Scruggs, Audrey Wheeler and Tiffany Smith paid homage to Khan with an incredible rendition of “Through the Fire” similar to Khan’s.

Returning to the stage in a glittering, rose-hued ensemble, Khan expressed her gratitude to her still high-squealing adoring fans for their prayers and well wishes. The plum-haired vocalist scatted to the jazzy smooth “My Funny Valentine,” then funked up with the Stevie Wonder-written “Tell Me Something Good.” What seemed to be the ending of the show with the anthemic “I’m Every Woman” turned into Councilman Kwanza Hall presenting Khan with a proclamation along with declaring it Chaka Khan Day in the City of Atlanta.

“Ain’t Nobody” closed out the evening, continuing the audience’s unison singing virtually drowning out Khan’s performance. All-in-all, it was a short but sweet retrospective that reinforced that Chaka Khan’s four-plus decade career in music is one of the most incredible bodies of work that younger artists dream of having.

 


Christopher DanielChristopher A. Daniel is an award-winning pop cultural critic who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to soulhead.com, he has contributed columns to The Burton Wire, HuffPost Live, Blues & Soul Magazine, Music Enthusiast Magazine, BK Nation, Shadow & Act, The Root, Dine with Dani and Urban Lux Magazine. Christopher is currently an instructor in the School of Communication at Georgia State University. Check out his other work on soulhead.com

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