Chaka Khan is one of the most respected women in music. She is up there with her peers like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, to mention a few. Today we might have Beyonce, but even she would bow down if Chaka Khan was in the building.

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So you will be happy to learn that the I’m Every Woman singer is coming to South Africa for the DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival which will take place on June 6, at the Waterfall Polo Estate, in Midrand.

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“I love coming to South Africa. It’s been a while since I was there so I am looking forward to spending some time there. I actually need to have some oxtail soup there. I visited a restaurant where they serve bizarre food and ate there with my family and it was pretty cool,” she said.

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Given that she is coming for a food and music festival, we asked how sophisticated her culinary skills were.

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“You will be disappointed. I have two granddaughters living with me and one of them is 22. She and her boyfriend do the cooking. The other one is 14 and she does the eating so I basically wake up and eat around noon because I don’t get hungry earlier than that. I might have poached eggs for protein. I am not a big eater so I could have half an avocado and a salad during the day,” she said.

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For her, eating less became necessary after a few health scares.

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“There was a time when I was a major emotional eater and was heavier. I wasn’t very happy and was eating a lot of cereal and noodles. I was diagnosed with diabetes about five or six years ago and I know the right way now,” she said.

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Chaka Khan has been musically active since 1973, first as a member of the group Rufus and later, as a solo artist. She has sold an estimated 70 million records and of the 22 Grammy Awards for which she has been nominated, she has bagged 10. With a record like that, there is obviously much material to fit into one show.

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“I usually do a 90-minute show and incorporate songs from Rufus on up to the present. Usually everyone is happy because I take my time in choosing what works in the space of time that we are given,” she explained.

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Given that this will not be her first time in the country, Chaka Khan has some things she would like to do when she is not performing.

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“I am not quite sure how long I am there for, but I think it’s a week. So I should have time to have that oxtail and see my good friend and sister, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and we will catch up. I will probably do another walk through Soweto, as I usually do,” she said.

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Chaka Khana has had some of her songs covered by great artists. While she feels honoured each time this happens, she did not shy away from stating her favourites.

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“There are a lot of people who have covered my work over the years and I wasn’t even aware of it. Whitney Houston did a great job on I’m Every Woman. Aretha Franklin, too (I’m Every Woman). I love her version, but I’m not crazy about the Kanye West cover of Through The Fire. Basically, I am honoured to have someone even consider covering my songs.”

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Over the years, the singer has done everything from jazz to disco, and still finds ways of making her music relevant today.

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“Nothing dies. Music genres do not die. People’s appreciation may die. With the multimedia today, there is no reason for anybody not to know any kind of music they want to hear,” she said.

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When she first started out, music was played on vinyl and today, musicians do not need record labels as they can sell their music as MP3 files via the internet.

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“The financial aspect of it makes it easier for artists to get paid today. What I love about music on social media is that music is meant for everybody for free because it travels through the airwaves. It’s like birds singing or the ocean crashing. For someone to think they can harness that and charge money for it is ludicrous to me, but on the other hand that’s how I make my music, so there is a bit of a dilemma there,” she said.

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So is she active online?

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“I do a bit of social media. I don’t Instagram much but I try to do the others where I can. I will be dropping a new single and I want to do a video campaign for my fans,” she said.

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• Chaka Khan will be at the DStv Delicious International Food & Music Festival, June 6, Waterfall Polo Estate, Midrand.

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