What'z Up Wit Cha?   Chaka Khan

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Sheila - This is such an honor and a pleasure interviewing you are definitely one of the people on the list that I said I must interview this person.

Chaka - Thank you.

Sheila - So Interpretations, the project.  I heard the album and I was just blown away.

Chaka - It is good. Isn't it? Everyone did a good job. I think that Ledisi really did a great job.

Sheila - Whew, she killed it. She tore that song up. I loved her and of course I loved you and I was really taken by The Randy Watson Experience featuring Bilal who did "Can't Hide Love". I was like, "Who are they?"  No disrespect but I had never heard of them before.

Chaka - Yeah, they were pretty good. I know them and they are good.

Sheila - I noticed that you were the only industry veteran included of your caliber. I mean, Angie Stone has been around for years as well but ...

Chaka - I was the oldest person on the album.

Sheila - Now see, I wasn't gonna say that. LOL

Chaka - Hey, it is what it is.

Sheila - Were you surprised to be included?

Chaka - I would have been surprised not to have been included.  We all go back to Chicago.

Sheila - I should have known that.  I ready your book.

Chaka - You read my book?

Sheila - I sure did.  I got home with your book at around 4:00pm.  I was done by 1:00am.

Chaka - Everyone says the same thing.  It's really an easy read.

Sheila - No, that's because we don't want to put it down. It was such a great read. It's so inspirational.  I was like "Wow". In this story you are a heroine. You went down those roads but look at where you are today and the lives that you have changed in the process. I just think that you are phenomenal.

Chaka - I'm glad to be here to tell the story.

Sheila - Amen to that. What does it mean to you to be included in a project like Interpretations?

Chaka - I'm really honored.  Maurice has contributed so much and this is our way of giving back to him. His impact on music and this industry has been huge. Their music has really inspired me as an artist.

Sheila - That's really interesting to hear you say that because you don't really think about how artist whom are pretty much peers would inspire one another.  Would you want an Interpretations project such as this one done of your music?

Chaka - Sure.  I'd say, go for it.

Sheila - Who would you pick to be on it?

Chaka - Well I know I'd pick Ledisi but that's a hard question because there is so much good talent out there today. As with the EWF project the challenge comes in trying to make that song your own.

Sheila - By the way, I love what you did with RESPECT for the Aretha Franklin tribute. Not that I was surprised because I know who you are but you are right in that there are times when people remake someone's song and the magic is lost and then there are some songs that just don't need to be remade.

Chaka - I absolutely agree.  I have people suggest to me all of the time that I should remake a song and I tell them, 'Hey, that's been done already'.

Sheila - I noticed that with your jazz album, all of the songs still had your special touch to it.  It honored those songs but it had your signature.

Chaka - That's the only way I can do it.  It has to be my way and I've been blessed to have the music in me allowing me to do that.

Sheila - That's a gift.

Chaka - Yes, it really is.

Sheila - Its a great achievement for Maurice White and the other EWF members to be celebrating 37 years of history making music and the years alone are quite an accomplishment. 

Chaka - Well, I dropped my first project in 1973. It wasn't too long after them.

Sheila - What event would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

Chaka - Working with Miles Davis. That's something that I'll always cherish.  I guess right now it would be working with Ramsey Lewis.

Sheila - Now I'm skipping ahead of my questions but are you working on a project?

Chaka - Yeah, I'm in the studio right now.

Sheila - Wonderful. I would love to do whatever I can to help with the promotions, not that you probably even need it.

Chaka - Oh that would be great.  I appreciate that and I want you to call my office and work that out.

Sheila - I sure will.  I have to tell you that I'm not musically inclined but I love the music and I do what I do because I love the music.

Chaka - If it wasn't for you, what good would I be?  If it wasn't for people like you, where would the artist be?  It's those journalist like you and your willingness to support our projects that helps us to get and stay where we are.

Sheila - Oh thank you so much for saying that.  I do what I do especially for veteran artist like you.  Your contribution to Interpretations is your giving thanks to Maurice and EWF and my supporting projects like this is my thanks for all of the contributions that you wonderful artist have made to music.  All to often I hear people complain about the music but it's those same people that won't go out and purchase the music of those artist that they claim they love so much.

Chaka - That's so true and I'm so blessed, really to still be in the mix but that's why I can't listen to the radio.

Sheila - It's difficult.  Really it is but I say thank GOD for advances in technology because we don't have to listen to the radio.  We can research out our favorite artist and purchase their music without having to wait for the radio to play their songs.  When I interviewed Alexander O'Neal, I asked him to imagine how much farther his career would have been if he had been privy to the technology that is out today and he said to me that in the earlier days of his career, Black artist weren't even allowed to cross over.

Chaka - Now that's just too much to even think about.

Sheila - Well with technology; for example do you have a Myspace page?

Chaka - Yeah I do. I also have a message board on my website and once a month, I go on and I chat with people.

Sheila - REALLY?

Chaka - Yeah.

Sheila - Do they know it's you?

Chaka - Yep.  I got my website and I interact with my subscribers.  The truth of the matter is that I really don't have the time to be on there everyday.  It takes up so much time.

Sheila - Yes it does.  I've had conversations with some of my industry friends regarding how they can use technology to their advantage. For example, many of them have thousands of fans particularly on Myspace.  That's technology at its finest.  Look at Prince.  I tell you that man is the truth.  He was the first to take full advantage of technology.  I swear, a college needs to have a Prince class and study this man because he is so brilliant.

Chaka - Yes, he is the best.  As you know I've worked with him.  I'm with you about technology. Very soon I am going to be auctioning off those suede pants that I wore on the Sweet Thing album.  You know the ones I had on sitting on the lip couch.

Sheila - Get outta here.

Chaka - No really, I am. 

Sheila - Do you know that is my favorite cover of yours?  I love the whole suede with the feathers.  I always have.

Chaka - I recently ran into the guy that designed and made that outfit.  I was out in Chicago and we hooked up.  He made a lot of my outfits in those days and we talked and decided that we were gonna do something together.  We are going to have a line.

Sheila - You most definitely should because I love the leather pieces that you wear. They are always so unique and I know that you've always worn leather.

Chaka - Thank you.

Sheila - Chaka, I can talk to you for hours.  I am really enjoying this conversation.  I almost forgot that I was conducting an interview but I don't want to take up too much of your time.  This has been so beautiful and I thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Chaka - Sheila, anytime and I look forward to talking to you again.  GOD bless you.

Sheila - Same to you.

Visit Chaka Khan on her official website at http://www.chakakhan.com and stay tuned for her new project!

 

2014 Sheila Chadwick for Word On The Street

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