Part 3-'Love Chaka..Still'
Chaka Khan Mid 1980's
After a much deserved break, Chaka released the ambitious 'C.K.' album (1988). Produced
by a variety of producers, 'C.K.' presented Chaka in a new arena of sorts as she performed two impressive jazz standards alongside her expected R&B. Chaka was joined by many legends including Miles Davis, George Benson & Prince, plus Bobby McFerrin & Chris Jasper among others. 'C.K.' proved to be an improvement over 'Destiny' with it's singles ('It's My Party', 'Baby Me', and 'Soul Talkin'), but in the end, Warner Brothers was not satisfied because it failed to reach the level of 'I Feel For You'. In addition to the aformentioned singles, Chaka also insisited on including more jazz, and in an evocative nod to her musical mentor (Billie Holiday), Chaka included 'The End Of A Love Affair' (from Lady Day's classic 'Lady In Satin' LP) & 'I'll Be Around'. Even with a stellar performance by Chaka, Warner's negative attitude was probably aimed at her decision to record more Jazz instead of mainstream music. Less than an optimal promotion campaign for 'C.K.' by the record label is proof of their displeasure, and Chaka would move back into familiar waters for the next project.
Following 'C.K.', Chaka spent a 3 year hiatus recording on many side projects, a few concerts, and she even moved to London. Warner Brothers also had major shift within the company, and Chaka was relegated to it's Reprise imprint for her next project. Eventually, Chaka released the Grammy Award winning 'The Woman I Am' in 1992 to rave reviews, and once again, it didn't recieve the promotion from Reprise/WEA that it deserved. The project was mildly successful, and Chaka was The Executive In Charge Of Production for 'The Woman I Am', which spawned a few key singles ('Love You All My Lifetime', 'Give Me All', and the club anthem, 'I Want'). Following the success her 1992 release, Chaka continued to move forward recording with Prince, Dave Gamson, Me'Shell N'degeocello, and others for her next project. When Chaka finally completed her next CD ('Dare You To Love Me') in 1995, Warner Brothers canned the whole thing, and a lot of great music remained unheard for years. Chaka was forced to release 1996's 'Epiphany-Best Of' CD, and this project featured many tracks from the 'Dare You To Love Me' project, while others were eventually included on different movie soundtracks throughout the years. Chaka kept her head up through it all, and actively promoted 'Epiphany', but her relationship with Reprise/WEA was coming to a close after years of neglect by the label.
Of the new material on 'Epiphany', David Gamson (who also produced Chaka's 1986 single 'Love Of A Lifetime'), provided the catalyst for the album's first single, 'Never Miss The Water', a
dynamic collaboration between Chaka and Me'shell N'degeocello. Gamson was a key producer on Me'Shell's classic debut CD, 'Plantation Lullibies' in addition to previous work with Chaka on 'Destiny' (1986), so everything worked out perfectly. Chaka says - "She played bass on almost everything he did with other artists", says Chaka. Chaka & Me'Shell were writing a lot together, and according to Chaka - "I liked her immediately when we met. Of course, I just fall in love with any chick who's playing an instrument
and doing her music--that is just so wonderful to see. When I got into her music and saw what she was about it was like , Yes, this is a marriage
made in heaven". Chaka continued - "She's got another way of talking, and that moved me". Other songs released on Epiphany include 'Everywhere', which was originally performed by Fleetwood Mac, and her 'new' reggae tinted version works perfectly.
Given her stature as a gut-wrenching soul singer, Fleetwood Mac seems to be a rather odd choice for inspiration!! But no!! "I love Fleetwood Mac," Chaka asserts.
"I listen to Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors - I listen to a lot of rock. It's one of my main loves.
I eventually want to do some rock".