The performance was sold out, and although fans came to witness Khan’s powerhouse vocals first hand, they received more than just a good show as Chaka gave them a peek at what it was really like to make it “through the fire.”
The R&B icon took a break in the midst of her performance in order to share a very personal story with her adoring fans. “I used to be a bad, bad, bad girl,” Chaka Khan opened up as the anecdote began. “I used to party back in the day. I’d get off the road, and say to myself, ‘I need a break today.’ And I would leave my two kids with my mother and go AWOL.”
As the story continued, Khan told the audience that she would always have her phone with her, but she would never dare to answer it. When someone in the audience shouted at Khan, asking her why she would never answer the phone, the 10-time Grammy winner replied, “Because when you are out there doing that stuff you don’t pick up the phone.” Of course, fate would have it that one night the singer would be “so high” that she answered the phone. The call would be the very moment when the singer’s life would change forever.
On the other line she heard the voice of her child crying, “Mommy, where are you? What are you doing, Mommy? Mommy, why don’t you come home?” After hearing the array of questions that no mother would want to hear from her child, Khan rushed to her mother’s house, where she had left the children. When she got there, however, she was separated from her children by her mother. Khan’s mother told the wild R&B star, who had constantly been struggling with alcohol and drugs, “Before you get to these children, you need to get down on your knees and pray.” So Khan did just that.
This was her testimony to her fans that they could truly make it through whatever hardships they were trying to make it through. As Khan put it, “Whatever fires you are going through right now, you can get through it.”
As the personal testimony touched the hearts of her fans, she began performing her hits once again. The audience regained their fun, vibrant mood as they danced to “Sweet Thing,” “I’m Every Woman,” and “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me.” Tavis Smiley, who was seated in the balcony, told the Washington Post, “I’ve seen her so many times, but I’ve never seen her go to church. Tonight’s concert was a spiritual experience.” Duke Ellington’s daughter, April Ellington, was also present at the concert and was highly impressed by Khan that night as she shared, “She looks better than ever.”
As the show came to a close, Khan exited the stage with a few single roses. Only moments later the icon would appear back on stage in order to fulfill the audience’s request for an encore.