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Soul music giant Chaka Khan feels for you ... and she thinks she loves you.

That’s taken from Khan’s big hit “I Feel for You,” a Grammy-winning song from 1984 that originally appeared on a ’70s Prince album. The song, from Khan’s album of the same name, featured a memorable rap from Melle Mel.

“That’s a song I really like, and I just wanted to cover it,” says Khan, though the rap came as a surprise to her. “I came into the studio one night and my mentor (and producer) Arif Mardin said he had a surprise for me. I don’t like surprises.

“I came in and I hear this (voice) saying my name over and over and what he wants to do to me, and I was floored. I was so embarrassed. Arif said don’t worry, it will be a hit.”

The former lead singer of Rufus, who celebrated her 40th anniversary in the music business last year, has plenty to say when asked to comment on her songs.

Khan talked about some of her biggest hits, some fan favorites, choice covers and more. She said that she was not very comfortable with “I’m Every Woman,” had mixed feelings about a duet with Mary J. Blige and wrote “Sweet Thing” in 10 minutes.

“I’m Every Woman”

The song is from Khan’s debut solo album “Chaka” from 1978.

“That’s one of the world’s great songs, but I had to grow into it. I felt embarrassed at the age I was singing it. I wasn’t old enough. I was about 30. I just felt how dare I say ‘I’m every woman, it’s all in me.’ But it’s a song I feel comfortable singing now. But in the beginning it felt pompous.”


The song originated on the Rufus and Chaka Khan album “Street Player” in 1978 and was covered by Erykah Badu.

“I used to call my son Stay. He would never leave home. ... But truly I would never beg a guy to stay. I was having a moment I think. I don’t recall. It has been a while.”

“Everlasting Love”

This difficult ballad was featured on the 1977 album “Ask Rufus.”

“That’s one of my all-time favorites. I love to sing that song, and that’s something I would wish for everyone to experience in their lives. My grandmother said to me (when she heard the song) ‘Oh, you can sing.’ I had been singing for 15 years. I guess what I was doing up until then wasn’t her kind of singing.”

“Slow Dancin”

This steamy number came from her 1982 self-titled album.

“Rick James was really hot at the time. He was always really hot. I came to the studio and there were pillows all over the floor and candles like something was going to pop off. I love that song.”

“Got to Be There”

Khan covered this 1972 Michael Jackson ballad on 1982’s “Chaka Khan.”

“I really liked that song. Arif said to me, ‘My dear, you should do that song, just do it for me.’ I did it for him and it turned out to be a really nice song. I should have it back in my show.”

“Tell Me Something Good”

This signature hit by Rufus and Chaka Khan is from 1974.

“Oh, yes, of course. To set the record straight, Stevie Wonder and I wrote the song together. I was honored to have Stevie come to the studio and do a song with me. ... At first I didn’t put my name on there. I wasn’t legally savvy then.”

“Sweet Thing”

This 1975 hit for Rufus and Chaka Khan was years later a popular cover for Mary J. Blige.

“That’s a song Tony (Maiden, of Rufus) and I wrote on the fly while we were in the studio and messing around. He started playing his guitar lick and I started singing the words, and it was one of those songs written in 10 minutes. Those turn out to be the best songs. I told both my husbands I wrote the song for them.”


This ballad came from her 2007 album “Funk This.”

“Well, that’s a deep song, a song where I was feeling very human. And I thought I was representing most people. I’m reminding people that we are all angels in spite of our flaws and whatnot. And that there is hope.”

“It’s Not Over”

She released this in 2013 with gospel rapper LeCrae.

“I like that song very much. It’s a tour de force. I love everything about it. I think we did a good job with it.”

“We Can Work It Out”

Her cover of the Beatles’ classic was included on her 1981 album “What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me.”

“I just loved the Beatles. I was in love with them and I thought we could do our spin on it.”


Khan and Mary J. Blige teamed up for this duet from Khan’s 2007 album “Funk This.”

“Oh, God. Mary and I had been talking for years and years about doing a song together, and she came with this offering. To be honest, I like parts of the song and parts of it I don’t really care for. Some of it was too aggressive, though I guess the lyrics warranted that. I just can’t imagine myself singing it on stage every night. But the experience of her and I working together was good.”

“My Funny Valentine”

This cover was Khan’s contribution to the star-studded “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack.

“Well, you know I love Rodgers and Hart. I love those songs, the ones by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn. That’s where I live. And I just love that song.”

The O’Jay’s, Chaka Khan

When • 8 p.m. Friday

Where • Fox Theatre

How much • $45-$125

More info

Kevin C. Johnson is the pop music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.