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(Credit: The Heart Truth / Far Out)

Music

Chaka Khan’s scintillating isolated vocals for ‘I’m Every Woman’

@TomTaylorFO

As we continue to look at diversity within the arts, it still remains startling that only two percent of music producers are women and disturbingly as Black Lives in Music informed us 43% of black females have felt the need to change their appearance to make it in the industry. Thus, the fact that ‘I’m Every Woman’ not only is anthemically empowering but has also supported women and minorities in the industry is well worth celebrating. 

Back in 2021, the song got one of its many female reworkings as Chaka Khan teamed up with Idina Menzel for a reimaging of the song for International Women’s Day. “I think it’s about women supporting women,” Menzel told NBC’s Today show. “I think it’s about sisterhood. Often society tries to get us to compete and tear each other down. It’s about holding each other up and giving each other an opportunity to be heard and to be seen.”

Originally written by the married songwriting partnership of Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford, Chaka Khan’s original outing helped to launch her career as a solo artist away from Rufus. It established her as a discover force to contend with in her own right and trailblazer a new breed of commercially viable funk-pop in the mainstream. 

Central to that success was the sheer bravura of Chaka Khan’s unapologetic dancefloor flooding delivery. Loaded with sex appeal and stunning, unshakable bravado her presence and style alone was enough to stir up the industry. However, on top of that, she had the chops to go along with it. What’s more, it matched her ethos as an artist perfectly. 

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As she once said herself, “It’s time for those of us who have a voice to speak out for life, for love and for justice using the same media we’ve used throughout our careers.” This empowering vehicle roars its way through the song itself. If you can capture euphoria along the way, then all the better. And Khan can’t help by shining through a patch of exultation in her explosively upbeat way. 

Fortunately, for our sakes, the main vocal track was recorded as an acapella take and later layered over the top. The result is a force to behold. Khan’s performance threatens to take Sputnik out of orbit as she achieves astral notes with butter-cutting ease. Her vibrato never ventures towards the inflated and also simply adds stunning style to the piece. In short, it’s as pure as an explosive vocal performance can be and it is a prime example of why she is considered one of the all-time great singers