Chaka Khan on collaborating with Sonu Nigam: Never got the chance to reunite

Updated: 09 September, 2020 08:10 IST | Letty Mariam Abraham | Mumbai

Two years after collaborating with Sonu Nigam on a bhajan, 10-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan wishes to team up with singer again.

Chaka Khan. Pic/ AFP, Sonu Nigam
Chaka Khan. Pic/ AFP, Sonu Nigam

Chaka Khan says the quiet life brought on by the pandemic suits her. It's a surprising remark to come from an artiste who has spent the better part of her life in the spotlight, belting out I'm every woman and Ain't nobody to an audience that cannot get enough of her. At 67, the performer in her is alive — only a year after she released her album Hello Happiness, the 10-time Grammy Award winner has lent her voice to the character of the chicken, Henrietta, in The One and Only Ivan.

"The story resonated with me," says the legend of her sophomore movie outing. She previously played a choir soloist in the musical comedy, The Blues Brothers (1980). The Disney+Hotstar film, which has Angelina Jolie and Sam Rockwell as part of the voice cast, revolves around a gorilla stuck in a mall for 27 years. Khan believes the story makes a larger point through its protagonist. "We are all enslaved in cages of different kinds. The film uses metaphors to depict life's hardships."

In an awe-inducing 45-year career, Khan changed the landscape of R&B and rock-and-roll music with her albums. The artiste has also had a brush with Indian music — on Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary in 2018, she collaborated with Sonu Nigam on the leader's favourite bhajan, Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye. "I had trained extensively for the bhajan. I was taught how to sing and pronounce the words. Though difficult to sing, the song was beautiful," she marvels. Impressed by Nigam's command over his craft, Khan hopes to join forces with the singer again. "I love Sonu Nigam's work. But I was busy with my tours and he was tied up with projects; so, we never got the opportunity to reunite. The timing wasn't right."

The one-time collaboration, however, laid the foundation for a deep friendship rooted in mutual admiration. Recounting how she was invited home for dinner, she jokes, "His wife tried to feed me to death. We hung out in Mumbai and he accompanied me for a recording. Our conversations revolved around songs and music."

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First Published: 09 September, 2020 06:59 IST

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