Some of you may have heard the story of me as a child singing to Chaka Khan and her response: "Damn- That white boy can sing!".
But you may not know exactly what Chaka means to me today. I would say she is probably my favorite singer. Meaning, out of all the singing voices I've ever heard, past and present, hers is the one that pleases me the most. It's difficult to describe. Sometimes it reminds me of a saxophone, a siren or stringed instrument. Other times it sounds like wind rushing through the trees. However I want to intellectualize it- It is distinctly Chaka. No one else sounds quite like her. Her range astounds me. I attended the funeral of family friend who passed earlier this year and Chaka sang an old Hymn, "Going Up Yonder". She started it in her lower range and then sang the chorus 3 times, each time raising her voice and entire octave until she was in glass shattering territory. It certainly lifted my spirits.
Some of my favorite Chaka work is with producer Arif Mardin, one of the greatest record producers of all time (if you ask me).
I recently bought What Cha' Gonna Do For Me on vinyl and it barely ever comes out of the record player. The opener is a killer arrangement of the Beatles We Can Work It Out. My other favorites are the title track, I Know You, I Live You and the song Fate which is sampled by Stardust in The Music Sounds Better With You.
Here's a video of Chaka performing "What Cha Gonna Do For Me". (Sometime in the mid-late eighties judging by the hair!)