Q&A SESSION WITH CHAKA KHAN: "You Asked...And Chaka Answered!" Arranged by David Nathan for the Soul Music.com mailing list,
Our subject is CHAKA KHAN, whose latest album "Classikhan" has been creating a real buzz since its release in October 2004. We invited members of the soulmusic.com mailing to submit questions on her music to Chaka and here are her responses!
1. My favorite album is Ask Rufus! It seems it was recorded when the group was in some turmoil. How did you all balance what was going on and sheer artistry on record?
CK: No, there was no turmoil. Maybe of just being a new band with new found fame.
2. What is the significance of "Egyptian Song" to you? It sounds like a trip back to someone's past life, well mine anyway.
CK: Exactly. It was about a spiritual place I once knew and longed for.
3. Some of my favorite songs are the ones you wrote with Mark, like "Some Love," " What You Did" and "What Am I Missing?" and they also seem very personal, Was it easy writing with your brother like that?
CK: Yes. It was like writing with myself.
4. On "What You Did," how did you come up with those horn arrangements? I am still amazed and get excited when I hear that.
CK: Thanks for noticing that! I love tuba and bass horns. I don't recall it ever being done before. I thought it would be interesting and beautiful, a unique horn section. We used Howard Johnson's tuba quartet.
5. How hard did you work to layer your vocal parts? Were they done separate from the group?
CK: It's actually much easier to sing with myself.
Chaka, I truly love 'ClassiKhan' and hope this will NOT be the last jazz & pop CD you record, II'm hoping you will record a CD that features more of your favorites. I would love to hear your take on some Mary Wells & Dionne Warwick..like 'The One Who Really Loves You' and 'Walk Little Dolly'.
CK: "Walk Little Dolly!" Now that's my song. And "The Windows of the World" I'd love to cover both of those. How'd you know!?
1) Is it true that you recorded duets with (or worked) with Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway? If so, will we ever hear those records?
CK: No. Unfortunately.
2) Of all the many singers who got their start singing background for you (Vesta, Mel'isa Morgan, Whitney Houston, Pennye Ford, Luther Vandross, Sandra St. Victor) , who was your favorite?
CK: That's not fair! They're each unique and brilliant! '
3) Will you ever work with Arif Mardin again?
4) How did you feel about Donny Hathaway, Minnie Riperton and Phyllis Hyman? Were you friends with any of them? '
CK: Yes, all three of them. I loved them all.
5) What was the first Joni Mitchell CD you purchased?
6) Have you visited or spoke to Luther since the stroke?
7) How did recording an album with Rufus and Arif Mardin differ?
CK: Besides the obvious, I had my freedom working with Arif and didn't have to 'vote' on what material to cover.
8) Any thoughts on your session (for 1980's "Naughty' CD) with Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and Cissy Houston for your CLASSIC song "Clouds"? What do you remember about the session?
CK: We were all loving what we were doing and hadn't a clue of what the future held.
Looking back at your whole career 1. What song do you feel is the best recording of your voice ( I'm thinking both in terms of performance and of showing the qualities of your voice)?
CK: Be Bop Medley
2. What song was the most difficult to record?
CK: I can't really say. I wouldn't say difficult maybe challenging. Even then I can't pinpoint one particular song.
3. When you're recording a song, are your approach to the song a conscious one or just what's happening right there at the moment of recording?
CK: My philosophy is familiarity breeds contempt. I like to work spontaneously.
Whatever happened to Chaka's sister, Taka Boom, who once sang lead with the restructured Undisputed Truth ("Help Yourself", "I'm A Fool For You", etc.)?
CK: She is living in England and doing well. She's still singing and recording. Last year she had a top ten on the British dance charts.
I had the opportunity to see you and Ledisi sing together this summer and it was excellent. Will you two be recording together in the future? Would you ever consider doing a tribute album?
If so, who?
CK: Joni Mitchell
Will there be any future projects with Rufus?
I'm a longtime fan of your music and I happened to catch your reunion with Rufus when you opened for Earth, Wind & Fire in September 2001. In my opinion, you tore the roof off that Detroit stage that night-in fact, EWF could've taken some notes from Rufus that night! On stage you mentioned that you and Rufus would be recording a reunion album and I was counting the days. Three years later, it looks like the reunion cd is a thing of the past. I'd like to know what happened to that project and is there a chance that the group might reunite for any projects in the future.
1. In the 1980's, Chaka was to team with former Temptations' Dennis Edwards for the duet, "Don't Look Any Further." Siedah Garrett sang on the demo version and ended up recording the song with Dennis. What happened?
CK: I don't recall
2. Why weren't you credited as a vocalist on the Top 10 Pop hit, "Higher Love" with Steve Winwood, but appeared in the video?
3. "Come 2 My House" with Prince is a great recording. Any plans to do any more work with Prince?
CK: Yes. A rock project.
4. Do you think you may tour or record again with Rufus?
5. Is there a producer that you haven't worked with in your career so far that you would like to work with, and why?
CK: I can't think of anybody
6. Are there any plans in the works for a Chaka Khan CD Boxed Set of hit tunes, b-sides, rarities, and unreleased material?
7. Of the young female artists performing today, which, if any, reminds you of yourself when you were first starting out, with respect to talent, drive, and determination?
8. In your solo career, what was the biggest suprise hit?
CK: "I Feel For You"
and what was the biggest flop?
CK: "Come 2 My House" w/ Prince
9. Have you ever been given a song, passed on it, and saw it become a big hit for another artist? If so, which song(s)?
CK:Not that I recall
10. Both Mary J. Blige and Whitney Houston have successfully covered songs that you initially recorded. How do you feel about other artists recording your material?
CK: It depends on how they do it!
In many different articles or interviews on you, and/or reviews of your concerts, I run across a common theme of the appearance of you being bored with performing the same songs all of the time, such as "Tell Me Something Good," "I Feel For You," "Sweet Thing," etc. My question then is, if this is in fact true, why don't you perform classic album tracks such as "Move Me No Mountain," "Love Has Fallen On Me," "Roll Me Through The Rushes," "Be Bop Medley," "Papillon (Hot Butterfly)" to spice things up for not only, but for your vast audience that have been craving to hear these live?
CK: Thank you!!!! I am!!!
Is it possible you may work with Arif Mardin again? (Personally, I hope so -- love all their work together.)
From email@example.com: I love your version of "My Funny Valentine" and the "Echoes Of An Era" album. Have you seriously considered doing an album of jazz classics? You know you can, even in limited edition form if possible.
I would like to know who Chaka's favorite vocalists are, and who influenced her early in her career.
CK: Aretha and Sarah. However, most are not vocalists but horn players, Miles, Dizzy, Parker, Joe Henderson and Chick Corea.
In a "Rolling Stone" interview several years ago, you said that you didn't listen that much to contemporary music because you didn't want to become "musically crapped." Does this still hold true? If not, who are some contemporary artists who've caught your ear these days?
Will they ever release a box set of your body of work?
CK: Yes. an anthology for next year
You have so much material that deserves more than a Greatest Hits CD. And where can we get that "Mama I Want To Sing" soundtrack you did in London?
CK: We're working on re-releasing that.
Thanks for this opportunity to share your graciousness and spirit.
CK: You're welcome! Thank you for your support!
I know that "ClassiKhan" is basically "classics' and favorite songs from Chaka's past. Over the past few years I've read that she had recorded duets with Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott among others. I'd like to ask her over her career, who her favorite duet partner has been, and if and when we will hear the aforementioned duets.
CK: They were all special for their own unique reasons.
Thanks to Chaka and sister and manager Tammy for arranging this Q&A session!