I Feel For You
In 1985, I was watching a popular British TV music programme called ‘The Tube.’ Chaka Khan appeared on stage, to sing this song. I had heard of her before of course, as the lead vocalist of the band Rufus, and owned some of the singles that had already been released, including the huge chart success, ‘Ain’t Nobody.’ She pranced onto the stage, her voluptuous form squeezed into a tight basque, generous thighs on show, and legs forced inside high boots. Her wild hair was bigger than a lion’s mane, and her chubby face wore a beautiful smile. She performed the song well, even though her high-kicks and gyrations affected the overall quality of the vocals.
I was captivated, without doubt. I thought that she was cuteness personified, and as with many great artists, I believed that she was singing only to me. I became a fan, on the spot.
Chaka Khan is a stage name. Her real name is Yvette Marie Stevens, and she is almost exactly one year younger than me. By that time, she had already enjoyed a long career in the music business, signing with her first group in 1970, aged just seventeen. After a long spell fronting Rufus, her solo career was marked by big-selling albums, and huge hit singles, as well as collaborations with some other big names, including Stevie Wonder, Rick Wakeman, and Prince. In fact, this song was written by Prince, and released by him in 1979, five years before it appeared on the Chaka Khan album of the same name.
Like many singers, Chaka’s life had its ups and downs. Two marriages, broken relationships, alcoholism and drug addiction, all took their toll on her career, and her body. She came out the other side though, still recording and performing, and even appearing on Broadway, in ‘The Colour Purple.’ We don’t see that much of her in the UK these days, but I will never forget that moment when she appeared on the TV in my living room, and found herself a dedicated fan.
Here is the official video. Stevie Wonder is playing the harmonica.
I have also included the performance from the TV show I watched.