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Chaka Khan Brings Classic Funk To The NPR ‘Tiny Desk’ With Powerful Performance

BY Dora Abena Dzaka June 19, 2024 6:08 AM EDT
Photo Source: Instagram/@chakakhan

This year’s Black Music Month, NPR Music is celebrating and showcasing a few exceptional Black female musicians by laying down a red carpet for their Tiny Desk Concert series and decorating it with petals.

The first installment of the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert featured Tems and was swiftly followed by Philadelphia rapper, Tierra Whack and saxophone goddess, Lakecia Benjamin.

NPR Music chose to go all out and welcome the great Chaka Khan, and the “Queen of Funk” to grace the Tiny Desk with a playlist to groove to. 

In 2023, the Queen of Funk celebrated her half-century in the music business. Still in high spirits, she brought the party to Tiny Desk.

Chaka kicked things off with a live funk-infused rendition of the Rufus classic Tell Me Something Good.

She was taken aback to discover that this was her first experience with Tiny Desk and that it was a real tiny desk, but she also cherished the cozy environment and the fact that she could see the audience’s faces.

Chaka surely noticed a few nods of approval from the crowd during her performance.

Khan’s nearly 35-minute set began with her solo jams, then transitioned into songs written with the band, Rufus.

When she sang What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me, a song from her 1981 album of the same name, she performed her trademark side-to-side shimmy. 

Chaka transported listeners back to the 1970s with a seamless transition into Rufus’ Stay and the legendary entangled song, Sweet Thing,

The audience transformed into the Chaka Khan Mass Choir and performed the song to her before she could finish.

The 71-year-old singer was moved by the occasion and pleased with how well they sounded. 

She took time to introduce her band and her three incredible backup singers, Audrey Wheeler-Downing, Tiffany Smith, and Trina Broussard.

Queen Chaka gave a double dose of ‘divatude’ to round off her NPR Music performance.

She conserved her energy for her last song, the timeless hit; I’m Every Woman, where she emphasized to the audience that she is, in fact, a legend in every sense of the word and that she is every woman.