Music icon Chaka Khan blazed the stage at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in her first performance since her voluntary stint in a treatment program for an addiction to prescription painkillers. The 10-time Grammy-winning powerhouse songstress, songwriter, philanthropist, entrepreneur and best-selling author turned a 75-minute career retrospective into a t series of magic moments to remind her adoring fans that her fiery vocal still rests perfectly atop the throne.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee’s siren delivery dressed enchanted in a black leather and sequins opened with the percussive Rufus classic “Do You Love What You Feel.” “I Feel For You,” her biggest solo hit to date, came with the song’s opening drop, her signature staccato refraining of her name (of course). This time, Khan took her time in delivering her verses, giving the track a rather chill flow.
Selling well over 70 million records worldwide, Khan’s trip down memory lane continued with the dulcet “Papillion (Hot Butterfly)” before she seamlessly segued into “What You Gonna Do For Me.” A few scales of “Stay” and “Sweet Thing” came later in the show. Khan’s contralto breaths worked sonic miracles on another Rufus ballad, “Everlasting Love” before her tranquil “come to Jesus” moment on the Sunday morning service-like ballad “Love Me Still.”
The show’s midpoint was a time for Khan to share the spotlight with her band. Ronald Brunner, Jr.’s drum solo, keyboardist Tracy Carter’s scatting, guitarist Rob Bacon’s robotic talkbox and funky riffs offered a rather strong climactic point. Background singers Toni Scruggs, Audrey Wheeler and Tiffany Smith belted out “Through the Fire” in ways that would definitely make Khan proud.
Coming back out on-stage in a sparkling rose-colored ensemble, the gracious, plum-haired Khan scatted out a jazzed-up rendition of “My Funny Valentine,” and got the audience on its feet with the funky “Tell Me Something Good.” Following the anthem “I’m Every Woman” and before the “Ain’t Nobody” encore, Councilman Kwanza Hall presented Khan with a proclamation declaring it Chaka Khan Day in the City of Atlanta.
The entire evening was evidence that Khan is still one of the reigning queens of music, no matter the style or era or obstacles.
This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.