Chaka Khan chose violence when she responded to a podcaster asking about Rolling Stone’s much-criticized 200 top vocalists of all time list. In an interview with Andrew Goldman on his The Originals podcast, the legendary vocalist was skeptical about the placement of several singers she deemed unworthy of their spot.
While she agreed with Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s place atop the list, “As she f-cking should be,” Khan said. Mary J. Blige’s inclusion at No. 25, four spots above her, Khan found insulting.
“What, wait. That’s why I feel the way I do,” she said. “These must be the children of Helen Keller.”
Khan has already made her feelings known about Blige’s 1992 cover of her classic song “Sweet Thing,” which she says the singer was flat. But if you actually listen to the podcast instead of the reports about it, Khan says she told Mary this to her face, because that’s how they talk and that she loves her some Mary. (And it didn’t stop Mary from getting a hit).
But she said when she found out Mary sang the song at 8 a.m. after being up all night, Khan said, “You don’t sing nothin’ at 8 o’clock in the morning.”
Listen and learn, young vocalists.
Khan on Mariah at No. 5: “That must be payola.”
On Adele at No. 22, ahead of Khan at No. 29: “Ok, I quit.”
As for Beyoncé at No. 6: “I don’t have anything to say about Beyoncé,” Khan said, adding that “she’s a great singer.”
But if you think the Black Twitter backlash was going to go against Khan, you’d have been wrong. While Mariah’s fanbase swooped in to defend their queen, the Black community landed firmly behind Chaka.
After all, this is the woman who originated “I’m Every Woman,” the song Whitney remade in 1992 with Khan in the video and Whitney name-checking her on the song as “my girl.”
This is the same Chaka Khan that remade (and rearranged) Prince’s song “I Feel For You,” and turned it into a big hit in 1984 along with a famous rap by Melle Mell that simply repeated her name over and over.
This is the woman who provided the soundtrack of the 70s along with Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight with the band Rufus and songs like “What Cha Gonna Do For Me” and “Tell Me Something Good,” off seminal albums like 1975’s Rufusized and 1977’s Ask Rufus.
This is the woman whose solo career spans three decades including songs like “Papillon (aka Hot Butterfly)” and “Ain’t Nobody” as well as “Through the Fire,” the song Kanye West sampled for his breakout hit “Through the Wire.”
Not to mention, despite drug addiction, multiple husbands, raising some of her grandkids and dealing with the music industry for five decades, at 70, she’s earned her right to say whatever she wants.
Black Twitter’s music historians got to it. They let folks know that no barbeque would be the same without a little Khan playing and that her music provides some folks memories of their childhood, their mommas, aunties and grandpops and whoever else was going to be respected that day.
While we figure that Carey was likely scrolling through her phone while lying on a $27,000 Duxiana mattress on thousand-thread count sheets while arranging her kid’s playdates with their 10 siblings and figuring out what diamond to wear around the house, and Mary probably saw it while slipping on her Gucci thigh-highs while renegotiating her Power Book II: Ghost payday, and Adele caught wind while waking up next to one of the NBA’s wealthiest agents and determining whether or not the market was right to offload one of her multi-million dollar houses, we still stan for Chaka. And that’s on period.
However, it appears Chaka Khan had a change of heart and has apologized for disparaging fellow singers named on Rolling Stone’s much-criticized 200 top vocalists of all time list during an interview with Andrew Golman on his The Originals podcast.
“As artists, we are unfairly put into ‘boxes’, ‘categories’ or on ‘lists,’ she posted. “Being an artist or musician is not a competition. It’s a gift, for which I am truly grateful. It was not my intention to cause pain or upset anyone. To anyone that felt this way, I sincerely apologize.”