Four decades after Chaka Khan launched her solo career with her smash hit “I’m Every Woman,” the Queen of Funk is back with a new dance track, “House of Love,” which sees her teaming for the first time with her siblings, sister Taka Boom and brother Mark Stevens.
Khan and her siblings debuted the track at a Coachella music festival event April 14. With its party-primed chorus, and remixes planned by Deee-Lite’s DJ Dmitry, Yousef, Split Secs and Tripmastaz, the song could bring her new chart success.
In February, she released the new single, “I Love Myself,” which features lyrics emphasizing self-esteem and acceptance.
“It is important that in these troubled times we honor our own self-respect,” Khan announced. “Beauty knows no boundaries and is accepting of us all whether black, white, gay, straight, physically or mentally challenged.”
Some proceeds of the song will benefit two organizations that assist victims of domestic violence and discrimination – Face Forward and Stomp Out Bullying.
In a Huffington Post interview, Khan explained how the song has special meaning for her.
“I developed a mantra many years ago because I had a problem with my self image as well,” she said. “I never felt beautiful, I never felt comfortable in my skin. I’m raising a 14-year-old girl, my grand-daughter, and this really made everything very clear to me. I started seeing things that she goes online with and she talks to her friends about, and I see these girls are really up to this Barbie doll image-type thing and are very critical of themselves and others visually. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore. We are living in very treacherous and bizarre times.”
Acclaimed as one of the greatest singers of our time, over the course of her celebrated career this legendary artist has won 10 Grammy Awards, released 22 albums and scored a bunch of timeless, No. 1 songs.
A remarkably versatile artist, she has worked with a diverse range of leading musicians including Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Prince, George Benson, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Quincy Jones and Joni Mitchell.
Born as Yvette Marie Stevens and raised in Chicago, as a young teenager Khan began her singing career with all-female group the Crystalettes. At 17, she became the singer for the Chicago-based band Rufus. When Stevie Wonder became a fan of the group, he offered them his song “Tell Me Something Good.” The single from the group’s 1974 platinum-selling album, “Rags to Rufus,” earned Khan her first Grammy.
With Khan as the group’s dynamic center, Rufus dominated the airwaves with hits like “You Got the Love,” “Once You Get Started,” “Sweet Thing” and “Ain’t Nobody,” which also won a Grammy. Reviews began comparing her to Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin.
Before she left Rufus, she released her first solo album, the million-selling “Chaka,” featuring the enduring hit “I’m Every Woman,” with Whitney Houston on backing vocals.
As a solo artist paired with the late producer Arif Mardin, her catalog of hits grew with tracks like “Clouds,” “Papillon” and “What ‘Cha Gonna Do For Me?”
It was during this time that Chaka began pursuing her love of jazz. With Mardin, she brilliantly reworked the classic “Night in Tunisia” with its composer, Dizzy Gillespie, on trumpet. She also recorded an album of jazz standards, “Echoes of an Era,” with such jazz luminaries as Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. And she recorded the superb, Grammy-winning tune “Be Bop Medley,” on the album “Chaka Khan.”
Many musicians have featured Khan’s vocal magic on their albums. She electrified Steve Winwood’s Grammy-winning “Higher Love”; and delivered the dynamic, Grammy-winning “I’ll Be Good to You,” teamed with Ray Charles on Quincy Jones’ hit album “Back on the Block.” Rod Stewart recorded a duet with her on the fourth edition of his “Great American Songbook” series; and British rock legend Eric Clapton has featured her on two of his albums including his recent “Old Sock.” Currently she’s working on a Joni Mitchell tribute album. At Mitchell’s suggestion, Khan sang “Ladies Man” on her “Funk This” album. Back in 1977, Khan was thrilled to sing on Mitchell’s brilliant “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter,” and she once suggested Mitchell’s record “Hejira” changed her life.
“I’m taking my time because I don’t have any time limit, no time constraints on it,” she reported. “I’m trying to bring her wisdom to a younger audience. I am going to make this my masterpiece CD. It means that much to me. This is the first real labor of love that I’ve done in my whole career.”
Many of us were stunned by the news of Prince’s death late last week. His Maui concert in 2003 was one of the most memorable events that the Maui Arts & Cultural Center has ever presented.
Who could forget the throngs of women who leapt on stage after Prince announced, “I need more dancers,” while he jumped up on a speaker and playfully wielded a whip above them.
Sometimes staying on Maui, he would occasionally turn up to jam with musicians like Willie K. Prince even mentioned Willie (“He’s funky”) at his 2003 show.
“He came up and jammed right after the concert,” Willie says. “It was surreal. We became friends and every once in a while we’d hang out. He was very shy and always positive about everything, especially music. Music was his Bible.”
Once, he briefly jammed with some jazz musicians at the Pizazz Cafe in Kihei.
“I was playing keyboards,” Sal Godinez recalls. “Prince came up and started playing the bell on a cymbal, playing along with the drummer.”
Chaka Khan was close to him, first covering Prince’s ballad “I Feel for You” in 1984, which became a million-selling hit single. She continued to collaborate with Prince on tracks like “Sticky Wicked” (which also featured Miles Davis), finally teaming together for their “Come 2 My House” album in 1998. On her Grammy-winning “Funk This,” she interpreted Prince’s ‘Sign O’ the Times.’ ” A Soul Tracks review noted: “Chaka is likely the only artist alive who is capable of reinventing the Prince masterpiece.”
“It screamed about what’s going on, even right now,” Khan said last year in a Maui News interview. “Prince is a visionary and those are some of my favorite lyrics.”
When I interviewed him in 1997, before a Honolulu show, he explained how “using my gifts makes every day incredible for me. Every night I thank God for my life and my music.”
Revered kumu hula and multi-Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning musician Robert Cazimero returns to the MACC on Sunday for the annual “Cazimero Lei Day Concert.”
Last year, he led his Halau Na Kamalei o Lililehua to victory as the overall winner at the 52nd Merrie Monarch Festival, as well as winner of the Kane Overall and Kane Auana divisions.
In the last few years, Cazimero has released two wonderful solo albums that have focused on his love for hula music. Released in 2011, “Hula” won a Hoku for Hawaiian Language Performance, while “Hula 2” earned him Na Hoku nominations in 2014 for Hawaiian Music Album and Male Vocalist of the Year.
Pioneers of contemporary Hawaiian music and a mainstay throughout four decades of performing, the Brothers Cazimero, including Roland Cazimero, released around 40 albums, won numerous Na Hoku Awards, and earned a Grammy nomination for their album “Some Call It Aloha Don’t Tell.” In 2008, they were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
* The Cazimero Lei Day Concert is presented at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Castle Theater at the MACC. Preshow festivities include hula and music in the courtyard, and island crafters will be on hand with a selection of fragrant lei to make your day. Tickets are $12, $28, $40 and $55 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Acclaimed jazz pianist David Benoit will team with Maui musicians Phil and Angela Benoit for a concert Friday in McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC.
They will perform songs from David Benoit’s new CD, “2 In Love,” along with some standards and smooth jazz favorites.
A versatile artist, Benoit’s eclectic path has embraced straight-ahead jazz, classical music, pop, smooth jazz and R&B. As a composer and conductor, his credits include work with Leonard Bernstein, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Dresden Philharmonic. His television and film credits include themes for “All My Children” and “Sisters,” and scores for “The Stars Fell on Henrietta,” “The Christmas Tree” and “Charlie Brown” specials.
Among his recordings, “Heroes” paid tribute to jazz piano icons like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver and Dave Brubeck. Benoit’s latest album, “2 In Love,” was praised by Jazz Times for its gorgeously atmospheric arrangements.
* The Benoits will perform at 7 p.m. Friday in McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC. Kendall Benoit will open. Tickets are $35 and $45 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.