Chaka Khan will present an evening of music and conversation at the Tobin Center for the Arts on Jan. 28. Image courtesy Tobin Center.
Chaka Khan will present an evening of music and conversation at the Tobin Center for the Arts on Jan. 28. Image courtesy Tobin Center.

Chaka Khan will present an evening of music and conversation at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, H-E-B Performance Hall, on Thursday Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. Khan will convey her message of “Success to Significance” and share her journey from Yvette Marie Stevens, the name she was born with, to becoming one of the most iconic artists of all times.

Icon Talks and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission have teamed up to bring this event to the Tobin. Khan will educate and entertain the audience by explaining her core keys to success and delivering a private concert.

Proceeds will benefit Icon Talks’ charitable counterpart, Icon to Ican Foundation, which provides mentorship and empowerment programs for disadvantaged and disabled youth to help them overcome physical, social and economic barriers.

John Hartsfield, co-founder of Icon Talks, believes Khan’s story is incredibly amazing and moving.

“This is just one of many intimate and inspirational events Icon Talks will host,” Hartsfield stated in a news release.

Khan is an undisputed master of vocal artistry, and has influenced dozens of other talented vocalists since beginning her professional career more than 40 years ago. She has an imposing stage presence and a powerfully flexible voice that spans many music genres: R&B, jazz, pop, rock, gospel, country, funk, and disco.

She got her start in her hometown Chicago while still a teenager, singing with several local groups including her sister Taka Boom. Khan’s singing helped the early trendsetting funk group, Rufus, earn half a dozen gold or platinum records.

“Tell Me Something Good,” written by Stevie Wonder, was on their first platinum album, Rags to Rufus, in 1974. Kahn received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for this accomplishment.

Her solo debut album Chaka, recorded in 1978, let fly a durable female-centric anthem, “I’m Every Woman,” written especially for her by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Twenty-two album releases later, Khan has won 10 Grammy Awards.

Her 1981 album, What ’Cha Gonna Do For Me, featured a jazz-rock hit, “The Melody Still Lingers On.” This rechristened Dizzy Gillespie’s 1941 effort, “A Night in Tunisia,” with Gillespie on trumpet helping Khan deliver lyrics she co-wrote with Arif Mardin.

Chaka further explored the jazz idiom in 1982 by singing an album of standards, Echoes of an Era, with Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Chick Corea (keyboards), Stanley Clarke (bass) and Lenny White (drums).

Her most awesome jazz achievement was the Grammy Award winning “Be Bop Medley” on the album Chaka Khan. Her lyrics and vocal arrangement catapulted six melodies from the post-war bebop repertoire into funk heaven.

Chaka Khan and Ray Charles took home another Grammy statuette in 1991 for “I’ll Be Good to You.” Her artistry is recognized by colleagues in the music industry, as well as through the sales figures of her recordings.

Over the decades, Khan has received many awards for singing including an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music in 2004, a Black Entertainment Network Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and a Soul Train Legend Award in 2009. Chaka was inducted in the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame in 2013. Also in 2013 Chicago re-named a city street Chaka Khan Way.

Chaka means “fire” in many African languages and Chaka Khan is a world-class diva. She works with some of the most skilled musicians around but her appearance at the Tobin Center will be a special event.

Millions of dollars were spent on acoustics of the former historic hall. Its floor and walls can be raised or lowered to match the demands of whichever sized ensemble is performing on its stage. The hall can literally be tuned like another instrument in the band. The musicians can hear and feel their sound going out and the audience’s response. In Khan’s case, one can expect to experience a feedback loop of high energy.

Her hits are legendary; “Tell Me Something Good,” “Once You Get Started,” “You Got the Love,” “My Funny Valentine,” “I Feel for You,” “Through the Fire,” are just some of her top-sellers.

It’s almost as if the stars have aligned. And actually, between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20, five planetary bodies – Mercury, Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – have moved into a celestial queue. And Jan. 28, this one-night only appearance of the star, Chaka Khan, will join the alignment. Enjoy this rare sighting.

Visit the Tobin’s website for ticket details.

*Top image: Chaka Khan will present an evening of music and conversation at the Tobin Center for the Arts on Jan. 28. Image courtesy Tobin Center. 

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Don Mathis / Cat Lee

Don Mathis' life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. Find him at the writers’ group at La Taza, Sun Poet’s Society at the Olmos Pharmacy, the Blah Blah Blah at Deco Pizzeria, and...