Chaka Khan performing in Atlanta

If you missed the legendary Ms. Chaka Khan in concert with Najee at Cobb Energy Performing Arts center, then you missed a rare treat.

Najee opened the evening in a unique way by playing directly to the middle of the audience. His first selection was “The Night I Fell in Love”. “Sweet Summer Nights” included an amazing drum solo. The audience was also treated to an instrumental version of Anita Baker’s classic “Sweet Love”, which featured a sensational guitar battle, and Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet”. Other selections included “Sound for Sore Ears” and “We Gone Ride”, in which guitarist Chuck Johnson provided the vocals that Eric Benet normally provides for the track. Najee also played the selection “Noah’s Ark”, which was written for his son and was specifically dedicated to Trayvon Martin during the concert. Najee is multi-talented, and it was great to hear him also play the flute and the baritone saxophone.

Then Ms. Chaka Khan took the stage, and she immediately got rid of her jacket. Ms. Khan looked amazing! She has lost a significant amount of weight, and showed off her hard work by rocking a fitted black cat suit. The set opened with the opening vocals for “I Feel for You”, chanting “Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan…..”. The first full selection was “I’m a Woman (I’m a Backbone). Then she transitioned into the party starter “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me?”. The tune “Your Smile” came next. The classic “Sweet Thing” lulled listeners into a groove that would automatically take you back to the first time you heard it.

Next came an amazing remake of “My Funny Valentine”. Several artists have remade “My Funny Valentine”, but there is something so special and pure about Ms. Khan’s version of the song. “Pack’d My Bags” came next. Ms. Khan brought the energy all the way back once the opening notes of “You Got the Love” were played. The audience received a unique an unexpected treat when Joni Mitchell’s “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” was added to the set. The Stevie Wonder classic “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” was next. “Earth Song” and “Everlasting Love” followed. Quiet storm and fan favorite “Angel” was up next. Then we arrived at the often sampled but never truly duplicated “Through the Fire”. “Tell Me Something Good” closed the show, but was it truly the end? No. The audience was on their feet cheering for more. Of course Ms. Khan graciously provided an encore, in which “I’m Every Woman” and “Ain’t Nobody” were performed. The evening highlighted the fact that even though Ms. Khan’s music is always underscored by an r&b and funk base, Ms. Khan’s musical catalog is truly both lush and diverse.

Najee advised that he toured with Ms. Khan for a substantial amount of time, so the combination of the two acts was seamless. The event was for a great cause: to raise funds for the radio station Jazz 91.9 WCLK.