Singer Chaka Khan embraces funk, not GOP

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - Pop diva Chaka Khan doesn’t have a lot of regrets -- and little wonder with eight Grammy Awards on her mantle.

Chaka Khan performs "The Color Purple" at the 5th annual Behind the Lens award ceremony in Beverly Hills, California in this October 24, 2006 file photo. Khan doesn't have a lot of regrets -- and little wonder with eight Grammy Awards on her mantle. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The 54-year-old singer, who has a wide-ranging catalog of recordings to her credit including her smash hit “I’m Every Woman,” is releasing a new album this fall with the tentative title “I-Khan Funk.”

But when the Chicago native spoke to Reuters recently she acknowledged she does regret her appearance at the 2000 Republican convention, where she sang what was described as “a rousing finale” after George Bush captured the party’s presidential nomination:

Q: Your catalogue is fairly broad -- funk, R&B, jazz, soft soul -- but your new album is tentatively called “Funk.” Does that say it all?

A: “It says it all. It’s a funky album. But it’s also eclectic. I covered, for instance, a Joni Mitchell. I funked up ‘Ladies’ Man.’... We did an equal amount of covers and an equal amount of original material. And I did some obscure songs like ‘Foolish Fool,’ which was done by Dee Dee Warwick in 1960 something. That was a song I sort of had to get out of my system. But it’s a great song.”

Q: Your last Grammy was in 2003, when you won with The Funk Brothers for “What’s Going On?” Now I don’t want to jinx you anything, but what’s feeling around “I-Khan Funk?”

A: “You can’t jinx me. A Grammy doesn’t define me. It’s nice to get a Grammy. It’s beautiful to be appreciated by anybody. I’m honored. But that’s not what I do what I do. For a Grammy.”

Q: But has it got it?

A: “It’s got amazing Grammy potential and American Music Award potential. It’s got amazing potential. If done properly. It’s got to get out there. People have got to hear it.”

Q: Technology has transformed the business of selling records. You must have seen these changes?

A: “Yes, I have. (Over) 30 years. And I’m telling you it’s the end of the big label, the end of the big pimp, you know, I’m so happy to see that.”

Q: You feel empowered?

A: “Oh yeah. They had us tied up like cattle. It wasn’t pretty. Look at Elvis Presley even. He had a lifetime contract. That’s unheard of in the business world outside of music. It just wouldn’t fly.”

Q: Let’s get political briefly. In 2000, you sang at the Republican National Convention.

A: “I’m trying to forget that.”

Q: That was my question. In the intervening years, a lot of people have become disillusioned with the president the candidate and ultimately the president that emerged.

A: “Does that answer your question? I did it for my foundation for autism education. I did it to bring some attention to that.”

Q: Did it at least do that?

A: “Possibly. It might have done more damage than good, for me anyway, for my spirit.”