by Howie Green

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 5, 2004

Sing it Sister!
Sing it Sister!  

Say it with me: "Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan"?

Chaka Kahn has had a very odd career for the last decade or so and most folks don't know if she's up or down or out or what's she's doing. Having scored big time in the '60s and '70s with Rufus, then on her own in the '80s, she sort of fizzled out in the early '90s - and yet she keeps popping up here and there to show all these young girls what a singer looks and sounds like. Oh make no mistake about it - she can still sing anybody off the stage!

It would be fun to play this album at your next get-together and see if anyone can guess who it is. Nancy Wilson? Natalie Cole? Kind of, but better.

This new album has a lousy title, ClassicKhan, but it?s the real deal. Ms. Khan joins the ranks of aging baby boom singers like Queen Latifa, Rod Stewart and Linda Ronstadt to leave the rock and roll aside and embrace some more "classic" tunes. And embrace them she does. Hell, she owns these tunes!

Tackling classic songs made famous by such icons as Shirley Bassey, Peggy Lee, Lulu, Patsy Cline, and Lena Horne takes a lot of balls. But then Ms. Khan has never been shy or reticent and this album is by far the best of this new emerging genre. Her multi-octave range voice is in fine form, her phrasing impeccable, her power unmatched and her delivery peerless. "Hey Big Spender", "The Best Is Yet To Come" and "Teach Me Tonight" all benefit greatly from Ms. Khan's sweet loving caress and then get a good jolt as she bats them out of the park. On "Is That All There Is" and "Crazy" Ms. Khan delivers sweet ironic performances worthy of Peggy and Patsy. The James Bond movie themes "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger" clearly demonstrate that Ms. Khan can deliver spine chilling vocal pyrotechnics unlike anybody else. The only song that falters a bit is "To Sir With Love", which suffers from too many conflicting rhythms.

So let's all hope this album indicates a new direction for Ms. Khan and not just a dalliance to fill time. Come on Chaka, let's break out the booze and have a ball!

Howie Green is a Boston-based artist and painter whose portrait of rapper Biggie Smalls appears on the album "Incredible". He is winner of Absolut Vodka's 25th Anniversary art competition and he painted 3 of the cows in the Boston Cow Parade. He recently painted a series of Pop Art Murals at the Dimock Center in Boston, MA and completed large art and mural installations in Delray Beach and Jacksonville, FL. He also recently painted the front entrance to Boston City Hall. His a multi-media designer and author of several books including "Jazz Fish Zen: Adventures in Mamboland" - and he once sang back-up for the opening act at a Shaun Cassidy concert in Madison Square Garden.