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 hadnt 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.
I Feel For You, her biggest solo charted single to date, came right after. The Prince-penned hit opened with the songs 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.
Midway 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 Khans.
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 Im Every Woman turned into Councilman Kwanza Hall presenting Khan with a proclamation along with declaring it Chaka Khan Day in the City of Atlanta.
Aint Nobody closed out the evening, continuing the audiences unison singing virtually drowning out Khans performance. All-in-all, it was a short but sweet retrospective that reinforced that Chaka Khans four-plus decade career in music is one of the most incredible bodies of work that younger artists dream of having.
Christopher 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