Funk singer Chaka Khan was born and raised on Chicago's South Side before joining the band Rufus. The group broke through with hit "Tell Me Something Good" and became a platinum-selling act. Afterwards, her solo career took off with such hits as "I Feel for You" and "Through the Fire." She has won 10 Grammy Awards, sold more than 200 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year along with earning a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The "Queen of Funk" is bringing her act to one of the biggest female events in the country, Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend. In an email interview, I asked her about it and how she is every woman.
Windy City Times: Hello, Chaka. I just heard about you performing at this event. Past performers have included The Pussy Cat Dolls, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. How does it feel to be headlining the biggest lesbian event in the world?
Chaka Khan: It's fabulous. My gay and lesbian fans have always been there for me. They are my most loyal. I know we're going to have a wonderful time!
WCT: What can audiences expect from the show?
Chaka Khan: I promise them an awesome show!
WCT: "I'm Every Woman" is certainly the song for The Dinah. The girls will go crazy! It seems like the perfect match with a women's-empowerment message.
Chaka Khan: Indeed, that's what it's about. We are powerful, more than we know…
WCT: Countless numbers of drag queens have lip-synched to that song over the years, and you've performed at various Pride events. How does it feel to be a gay icon?
Chaka Khan: It means a lot because gays will read you!
WCT: Do you have a girl crush? And if so, who is it?
Chaka Khan: Not at the moment!
WCT: Of all the hits you have in your repertoire, do you have a favorite one?
Chaka Khan: "Ain't Nobody."
WCT: You've received a nomination for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Is that the ultimate career achievement for you?
Chaka Khan: My ultimate career achievement to date was working with Miles Davis. However, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination was a huge honor.
WCT: You have worked with some great people like Miles and others like Stevie Wonder, Prince and Quincy Jones. What was your thought when you first heard the now iconic "Chaka Khan" rap by Mel Melle on "I Feel For You?"
Chaka Khan: I was embarrassed!
WCT: You recently performed in Chicago. How was it going back to your hometown?
Chaka Khan: I always love going home. They always welcome me so warmly.
WCT: Your De La Soul duet was amazing, and so was your recent VH1 Divas Live performance with Mary J. Blige. Is there a current rapper or pop artist you would like to collaborate with?
Chaka Khan: Amy Winehouse was my choice.
WCT: Do you think it's easier or harder for fans to find performers they like in the Internet age?
Chaka Khan: Modern technology has changed so much in so many industries. Ultimately, I believe that it helps because it allows greater access, both faster and more direct. I enjoy doing live chats with my "friends."
WCT: The Chaka Khan Foundation provides help and education to children and young adults who are victims of domestic violence, substance abuse and autism. Please tell us why creating this foundation was so close to your heart.
Chaka Khan: Because empowering the innocent is my passion and purpose. Children and women at risk are who we assist through The Chaka Khan Foundation.
WCT: What are your upcoming projects in 2012?
Chaka Khan: Surprise! Stay tuned to www.chakakhan.com .
Go "Through the Fire," head to Palm Springs and escape this cold weather March 31. To purchase tickets and find more information at www.thedinah.com .