By Jack Barnes
The Queen of Funk Chaka Khan has today released ‘Hello Happiness’, her first album in twelve years, via Diary Records / Island Records, the new label formed by Major Lazer founder and Grammy-nominated producer Switch with artist/songwriter Sarah Ruba Taylor. It has emerged to rapturous acclaim, with many critics hailing it as one of the finest albums of her career. Enjoy this audio stream below after the jump and please share this with friends.
Chaka Khan’s first UK shows after the release of ‘Hello Happiness’ will come with two headline sets at London festivals in the same location over the same weekend. Mighty Hoopla (Sat June 8th) and Cross The Tracks (Sun June 9th), both in Brockwell Park.
‘Hello Happiness’ is an album which sets Chaka Khan’s timeless vocal to an empowering collection of songs with cutting-edge production. With an eye on the future and a respect for the past, Chaka Khan has delivered an album with the contemporary edge to entice newcomers to her world class talent and the quality to excite long-term fans.
In his foreword to the album, Gilles Peterson perfectly encapsulates everything that makes it so special:
“Chaka… you sound so good – nothing’s gone – you’ve just matured. All those vocal textures and space around the bass-lines – only you can flirt with the beat in such a way. I’ve been waiting for this album – a proper Chaka selection, with proper production! ‘Hello Happiness’ is pure good time – and that’s something we all need in these dark days.”
The title track is a tribute to the life-affirming power of music, it combines the sass of ‘I’m Every Woman’with the invention of ‘I Feel For You’ while also feeling precisely in tune with the current zeitgeist.
The strength of the title track is equalled by the rest of the album. The soaring ‘Like A Lady’ feels like Switch has been teleported back to the great late ‘70s New York disco scene, while Chaka rolls back the years with one of the most powerful performances of her career. That’s something she also demonstrates with the swaggering strut of the sultry R&B anthem ‘Too Hot’. ‘Isn’t That Enough’ and particularly ‘Don’t Cha Know’ find her embracing bold new elements to her sound, while the laidback, minimalist groove of ‘Ladylike’ gives her the space to prove that her vocal has clearly grown in stature over the years.
Chaka Khan first collaborated with Switch and Ruba Taylor as a potential featured artist on a different project. Inspired by the power of both her voice and personality, the duo suggested working on an original Chaka Khan album – something which she didn’t have in mind. But she was soon convinced when she heard some of Switch and Ruba Taylor’s songs, which coincidentally were influenced by Chaka Khan but written for their own project.
Chaka chose her favorites and stamped her identity all over them, with her inimitable vocal gift and dynamic energy taking each track to new heights. Switch and Ruba Taylor also provided the groundwork so that Chaka Khan could concentrate on making her first set since 2007’s ‘Funk This’.
The 10-time Grammy Award winner teed up her phenomenal return with the single ‘Like Sugar’. Initially launched as a limited edition release for 2018’s Record Store Day, it earned airplay from Annie Mac, Nick Grimshaw, Pete Tong, Benji B, Danny Howard and Gilles Peterson before receiving a full release last summer.
The accompanying Kim Gehrig-directed video extended that love with two wins at the UK Music Video Awards, while live sets at Bestival and the Pitchfork Music Festival were widely heralded as highlights of the summer. It also soon became a club anthem with support from Mark Ronson, The Magician, Horse Meat Disco, The Black Madonna and many more.
Chaka Khan is one of the world’s most gifted and celebrated musicians. A songwriter, actor, author, philanthropist, entrepreneur and activist, Chaka has influenced generations of recording artists. She has the rare ability to sing in multiple genres, including R&B, pop, rock, gospel, country, world music, jazz and classical. Throughout her legendary career, Chaka has released 22 albums and racked up 10 US #1 singles; seven RIAA certified gold singles; and ten RIAA certified gold and platinum albums. Her list of high profile fans and collaborators, past and present, includes Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Quincy Jones, and Mary J. Blige.
After forty years in music, ‘Hello Happiness’ is a celebration that proves that Chaka Khan is as inspiring as ever.
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