When the young Yvette Marie Stevens was growing up in the streets of Chicago, virtues such as perseverance, tenacity and patience must have been part of her timbre, because she’s grown and evolved into the iconic soultress Chaka Khan, and those traits–along with one of the most uniquely gifted set of pipes known to man–have been mainstays in her 40-year run in the music industry. So in perfect better-late-than-never fashion, the accolades and recognition of her years of overlooked greatness have begun to surface.
Her latest honor took place Monday, June 10 at the Apollo Theater, where she was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame as part of the eighth annual spring gala. Time Warner Inc. also won the Apollo’s 2013 Corporate Award, presented by actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
Carol’s Daughter founder and President Lisa Price, winner of the Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award, gave an impassioned speech in which she expressed her joy at sharing the stage as a peer to such an esteemed and accomplished group, but she kept things in proper perspective as she tearfully thanked her acknowledged anchor in life, her husband, Gordon.
For the main event, future inductee Erykah Badu presented the trophy to Khan. Performance tributes featured interpretations of Khan classics by Jennifer Holliday (“Through the Fire”), Patti LaBelle (“Love Me Still”), newcomer Alexandra Burke (“Do You Love What You Feel”), Mary J. Blige (“Sweet Thing”), Deborah Cox (“Ain’t Nobody”) and Emmy Award winner Wayne Brady, who also hosted the show, did his thing by putting a wicked spin on a funk-laden “Tell Me Something Good.”
If you’re rubbing your head trying to figure out who Alexandra Burke is (as did I), she’s the 2008 winner of the Simon Cowell-created “X-Factor” show in London. Prior to taking the stage, the 24-year-old took to Twitter to express her excitement. “This is soooo overwhelming!! I’m unsure if this is real … I’m so thankful for this moment today,” she said. She later added, “Still can’t believe my luck … Can’t believe I’m a part of this lineup. Lil’ old me from London … wowza.” The musical tribute concluded with Holliday, Cox and Burke bringing down the house with perhaps the song most associated with Khan, “I’m Every Woman.” (I’m sure the spirits of Nickolas Ashford and Whitney Houston were there to share in that one)
Khan was unable to participate because she is on medical rest for her voice, which has caused her to change her 2013 music career plans. Khan’s forthcoming album, “The iKhan Project: Alive,” originally scheduled for release on July 2, has been rescheduled for release in the fall. “Due to her doctor’s orders, it’s best that we move the date to give her the proper and adequate time to promote and market the new album,” says Khan’s manager, Tammy McCrary of Chaka Khan Management and Enterprises. “We are looking forward to a great project and a very robust concert and tour schedule this fall.”
“The iKhan Project” is quite ambitious in that it will include recorded music in eight genres, including R&B, jazz, pop, rock, gospel, country, classical and dance music. Sounds like Khan has her eyes set on her 50th anniversary in entertainment. We’ll be along for the ride fo sho.
I’m out. Holla in seven days. ‘Til then, enjoy the nightlife.