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CHAKA KHAN: WOODROW WILSON PLAZA, WASHINGTON D.C. JUNE 3, 2009
Chaka Khan kicked off the Summer Concert Series here in D.C. in a major way. A full-capacity lunch time crowd was given a taste of why she has endured for over 35 years on the main stage. Focusing primarily on Rufus material, Chaka had the crowd under her sway from the opening strains of “Stay,” played with passion by her tight band. She got us moving early with the classic “Ain’t Nobody” then moved on to a steamy version of what she called one of her favorite songs, “Everlasting Love.” As a treat, she offered an a cappella verse of “Earth Song” to the delight of long-time Rufus fans who are familiar with the ASK RUFUS stand-out track. “Pack’d My Bags” was next up with sweetly cooing background vocals as Chaka sang about life on the road before launching into the funky chorus of the song. On “You Got The Love,” Chaka gave her guitarist Eric Brice room to show off his skills.


Moving forward to her latest CD, FUNK THIS, Chaka hit us with “Will You Love Me” and her new standard, the autobiographical “Angel,” which has turned into a sort of testimony for her. When Chaka sings this song, with lyrics like “..always rearranging the wreckage of her life…” there is a passion and connectedness that is rare and true. This gives way to some honest and profound dialogue about how grateful she is to still be here before she segues into “Through The Fire.”


But then, church is over ‘cause Chaka says, “We gon’ sing some secular songs now”. “Tell Me Something Good,” always a crowd favorite, was funky and fun. “Sweet Thing” turned into a showcase for her incredible background vocalists, Sharetta Morgan, Tiffany Smith and Mabvuto Carpenter who each took a verse (along with the entire audience). At the end Chaka and Sharetta engaged in a full-out “can-you-top-this” run competition. Now Sharetta could definitely hang, but we know who came out on top here.


Of course the show ended with the anthem “I’m Every Woman,” the ultimate climax that always leaves the entire audience on their feet in a full throated sing-a-long. On this date, Chaka was in top form vocally, in great spirit, witty and supremely entertaining.




About the Writer
Michael Lewis is a long-time associate at SoulMusic.com. His industry experience includes Sony Music, Motown and La Face Records, and a tenure at HEAR Music. He is grateful to contribute to sustaining the legacy of R&B and soul music.
  
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