Chaka Khan talks from rehab about Atlanta concert, Prince

Chaka Khan is playing her first show since entering rehab in July. Photo: Timothy Fielding.
Chaka Khan is playing her first show since entering rehab in July. Photo: Timothy Fielding.

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri

Chaka Khan made headlines last month when she announced she voluntarily entered a rehab program to combat an addiction to prescription pain medications.

The 10-time Grammy winner known for the monster soul hits “Tell Me Something Good,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Feel For You,” was said to be motivated by the April death of her longtime friend Prince, who succumbed to a similar addiction.

Khan, 63, postponed a spate of dates to focus on her health. Her Friday concert at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre will be her first performance since entering a facility.

Calling from an undisclosed location two weeks ago, Khan talked about what fans can expect from her show (she’ll perform with her usual band, she said), as well as her upcoming Joni Mitchell tribute album. Khan wouldn’t discuss her current health other than to say she felt, “great.”

Q: Atlanta will be your first show back. Are you itching to get back on the road?

A: Absolutely, you could say that. I'm looking forward to getting back into my groove.

Q: What can fans expect from your live performance?

A: Just a damn good show, as usual. Hopefully I'll hit everyone's sweet spot with one song or another. It takes great pains to put a show together. We're pretty sure that we have a show that will make people happy.

Q: When you sing those big hits like “I’m Every Woman” and “I Feel For You,” do they take on any kind of different meaning for you at this point in your career?

A: They continue to take on new meaning. It took me forever to feel comfortable singing "I'm Every Woman." It took me some time to realize that it's the truth.

Q: You and Prince were such big influences on each other. Do you plan to pay tribute to him in your show?

A: My tribute to Prince is a private one and a personal one. We did a CD together, "Come 2 My House" (in 1998). We're working some of that music into my show so I can talk about it and do a little walk through our history.

Q: You’ve been working with your siblings (Mark Steven and Taka Boom on the song “House of Love”). What made this the right time to collaborate?

A: We just felt we wanted to do something together so I figured what the hell? I like the song. It's family, you know. It's always good, most of the time.

Q: What else have you been working on musically?

A: I've been working back into stuff solo. I'm doing my Joni Mitchell tribute CD. I've wanted to do this for many years. I finally had the opportunity to do it with a label in England, so I said OK, let's jump in and get that craw out of my throat. There are some (guest) artists but I'm not going to say anything about it now.

Q: So much of today’s music – especially dance music – is more processed than it is organic. Why do you think that is and do you think there is a way around it?

A: There are two kinds of music - the music that relies on technology and the kind that doesn't. Both have an equal following. A lot of the high-tech stuff with keyboards for the entire thing is popular among younger people. But people of another age, 40s and up, we still know soulful and well-done music and music that's played by musicians and gravitate toward that and know that music.

Q: You worked with Mary J. Blige and Michael McDonald on the last record. Do you have a wish list for this one?

A: Right now, I couldn't think of anybody. If I sat down and talked with my brother and sister they could tell me who I want to work with, they know who I like.

Q: What young artists do you hear and see who you hope will carry on with what people like you and Stevie Wonder and Prince have done?

A: Jazmine Sullivan, I LOVE her. She's amazing, she writes her a** off. When I listen to music, I don't listen to it in the house, really. When I get in the car with my granddaughter, that's when I do and it's usually Joni, Miles (Davis), Prince. A good mix.

Q: You released your autobiography more than a decade ago. Is there a second volume in you?

A: We've been talking about that. That's forthcoming. I've had an interesting life. I'm going to wait a minute and see what happens with my life. It's like "Moby Dick" - part one and part two.

Q: You were a first-time nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. How important is it to you to get in?

A: It's more important to my fans than it is for me. I'm not doing this for the Rock Hall. I'm singing for my friggin' life. It's nice, but it's not on my bucket list.

Concert preview

Chaka Khan. 8 p.m. Aug. 5. $37-$107. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, .

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