Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Features

Chaka Khan: I Might Quit Touring ‘Three or Four Times, Like Other Bitches Do’

For Chaka Khan, the end of 2023 was nothing short of triumphant. In November, she was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and she also moved from Los Angeles to a big, rural property in Georgia, where she says she’s found “peace of mind.”

The R&B icon, who just released a new fragrance (Chaka by Chaka Khan), and is still playing live dates even as she strives to wind down her touring schedule, looked back at some career highlights and struggles in the latest edition of our Last Word interview.

One of the titles you considered for your memoir years ago was To Hell and Back in a Limousine. What, for you, was the “hell” part?
Riding on a bus, pissing in a little bathroom, waking up in the morning and you’re five hours from your hotel where you can take a proper bath or shower and go to bed like a normal human being. And then you got a gig that night. That’s friggin’ insane. It was just insanity. It’s like being a truck driver and a performer. It’s lonely as all get-out. 

You’ve talked about winding down your touring career. I’ve had artists like Keith Richards tell me they want to die onstage — clearly that’s not you.
Some people, that’s all they have, you know? I got this rich-ass life. I’ve got great-grandchildren I want to get to know better. So I will not do another tour. I’ll do dates, but it won’t look like a tour. They’ll be far enough apart that I can have time to sleep in between.

Will you ever retire from performing altogether?
Well, I might do that three or four times, like other bitches do [laughs].

A story people might not know is that Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” was originally a duet with you — and the label insisted on erasing your vocals. That’s disgusting to me.
Honestly, it is disgusting and I did go through a period because of “Addicted to Love” where I was very hurt. And I marveled at how something so pure and simple and beautiful could be just wiped off the face of the Earth because of money. That was crazy. We were on the same label. It would have been a win-win situation for everybody. It was great. The duet was fabulous, and it would have been an amazing thing. It was his idea. He grabbed me and just said, come on, let’s do this. The fact that music, like a lot of things of beauty, can be so torn apart, and stolen from us, by dark forces… Robert was very apologetic. He didn’t get it either. He was bewildered, as was I.

It seems like it was a flat-out racist decision, right? That they somehow decided it would be less marketable with you on it?
That’s where it came from, from my point of view.

How much do you think about legacy, about your music being heard when you’re gone someday?
I don’t really care. I would hope that some of my shit has some longevity, but if it doesn’t, that’ll be because hopefully somebody better has come along. I just hope that the art form doesn’t get so screwed up with stupid shit — kids today think that every instrument can be played on a keyboard. Instruments have to be introduced once again to these kids.

Did you ever have any mixed feelings about Whitney Houston covering “I’m Every Woman”? 
Absolutely not. Because she did a stellar fucking job. I was flabbergasted! I said, “What, did you use my backing vocals on that?” She said, “Nah,” and I said, “I’m gonna check it out!” We were very good friends. I miss her as much as I miss Prince. She was such an amazing human. Funny as hell and smart. 

To clarify something, the reason you were annoyed with Kanye West about “Through the Wire” is that he asked to use your sampled voice, but didn’t make it clear that it’d be sped up, right?
Yeah. And you know, that was my fault, too, for feeling salty about that in any way. Because if I understood the rap game more completely, like I do now, then that wouldn’t have been a big deal to me.

So it doesn’t bother you anymore?
No, I’m done. Please. I’m not hanging on to any silly grudges.

I could have easily been a casualty where I was at a couple of times in my life. You know, just by the grace of God. 

You once said that given your substance use, you don’t know how you didn’t become a casualty like so many other musicians. Have you gained any more insight as to how you made it?
No, it’s a mystery. I could have easily been a casualty where I was at a couple of times in my life. You know, just by the grace of God. 

What would a young Chaka Khan say to you?
She’d say, “Really?” I never, ever once thought that I’d be as well-known as I am today. Because that happened totally without my having to do anything with it, [besides] just my songs. I didn’t have great people presenting me in a big way to the world. I am still amazed at how loved I am in this industry.

What has moving to Georgia meant to you?
It means everything to me because I got a peace of mind. I’m looking for Bigfoot, I’m looking for Sasquatch because I’m surrounded by this forest and it’s just beautiful. I got a lake right here. I’m looking at a lake in the forest every day when I get up. I sit outside and breathe in pure oxygen. I’m drinking tap water from my well. I’m getting ready to plant this summer. I’m going to grow my own vegetables and grow a lot of my own herbs. So I’m looking forward to that. And then I plan to get a couple of horses. And I have plans to live life. Real life.

When you sit on the porch and look out at all that, do you feel like you’re finally seeing the fruits of your labor?
I’m seeing some of the fruits, the beginning of the fruit. The offshoots. [Laughs]. Yes, absolutely.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

News

For Kacy Hill, making her album Bug helped her catch her feelings before they flew away. On Friday, the singer released “You Know I...

News

The wait is officially over — Cardi B dropped her “Like What (Freestyle)” Friday (March 1). The rapper teased the new track via her...

News

Cardi B dropped “Like What (Freestyle)” on Friday, the track samples Missy Elliott’s “She’s A Bitch” from her 1999 album Da Real World. “Classy and...

News

All Chlöe Bailey wants is love. On her new single “FYS” — which stands for the NSFW title “F–k Your Status” — she croons...