When rolling out caught up with legendary singer Chaka Khan shortly after the death of “little sister,” Whitney Houston, who was found dead of an accidental drowning in a Beverly Hills hotel, she was fiercely forthcoming about the price of fame, the ravages of the “good life” and the price women pay for notoriety. The lyrics to one of Khan’s greatest hits, “Once you get started, oh it’s hard to stop,” pretty much sums it up for the career and life of the enigmatic Chaka Khan. -roz edward
Coping in the music industry …
My therapy is singing. That’s how I cope and let it all go, I sing. If I weren’t singing I’d be in jail probably.
Advice to emerging artists …
It’s frustrating sometimes because everybody and their mother and their grandmother wants to be a singer. And sadly thanks to technology, we can now take a dog barking and though the magic of technology make it sound like a song. When they handle you in the studio you’ll sing through you a keyboard. There are so many gimmicks and gadgets right now that young artists are losing the true path and missing their true calling. Some people should just go ahead and be a model. Some people just think [singing] is their true calling and those are the people that frustrate people like India Arie and myself and other artists.
What to expect in 2012 ….
I am working on a new project. I am doing a lot of writing and I’m writing poetry. I can’t divulge who I’m working with at this time. I am creating a [vehicle] to get the message out that I want to give to people. Right now we’re going through a very unique time in mankind’s history and I find that my audiences are tapping me for a side of my performing that I have never been tapped for before. I feel like there’s a need for more spirituality.
Proliferation of violence against women …
Men beating women, or women beating men, or us as a race beating up each other comes from a machine that has been at work in this country since we came over here on slave ships. It’s a vicious cycle that comes from the first law of oppression, and the first law for breaking down any working system, which is to divide and conquer. And that is what has been our experience for the most part. Now we are divided by the powers that be and we divide ourselves from each other. You know, we still get caught up in “this one is lighter than that one” or “that one has nicer hair than the other.” these things still exist and we are passing it on to our children. What we have to do is to break these cycles and it starts with the children. O could go on and on, but it’s going to take working toward a goal and the goal is our children.
Chaka Khan performs live Wednesday April 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.