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PALM SPRINGS -- Thank you for following our walk through the weekend in fabulous Palm Springs.
Continuing on … after meeting up at the Hyatt on Palm Canyon Drive for a quick drink with friends who'd just arrived from San Diego that afternoon, we made our way over to the Palm Springs Convention Center for an unexpected Red Carpet with Chaka Khan.
This was a blissful surprise because previously we had no indication she'd be doing any press.
I must say Chaka Khan is absolutely stunning up close and in person. Her smile lit up the entire expanse of the convention center's lobby. She wore a beautiful long, flowing black coat with a shocking pink lining which flowed to a long train behind her.
Her contoured and very flattering black outfit had big black spiders -- which were oddly attractive -- woven into the fabric and cobweb designs throughout the laced material and she was even brandishing a bedazzled whip!
Her eyes and nail polish sparkled as brightly as the bling on the end of the whip's handle, and again, she was just stunning.
Not to date myself, but I was just 14-years-old in 1974 when "Tell Me Something Good" hit the airwaves, the summer before my high school years began. Hearing that song brings back so many memories of that favorite summer for me, so this was truly a thrill. I've watched Chaka twice in the last month on Piers Morgan and was happy to see that she is looking better than ever, but again, in person she truly shined.
Mariah Hanson, founder of Club Skirts Presents The Dinah met Chaka on the red carpet for a few quick poses. She ditched her signature black jacket for a beautiful leopard style version and looked great standing alongside the living legend.
A local television station asked Chaka what the ladies could expect that night and her response was, "A music show, that's what I love to do." She also spoke about her foundation which helps women and children at risk.
I snuck a peek inside the convention center venue before the show and was in awe of the set-up. The stage was like nothing I had ever seen at a previous Dinah event (and I've been coming for 22+ years). There were two huge VIP riser platforms on either side of the standing room-only area, which would later be used for a dance floor after the concert.
Chaka started out with a Rufus song, "I'm a Woman (I'm a Backbone)" and then told the crowd how very happy she was to be there. "You are the best crowd and if times get tough, I will always come back to The Dinah." The crowd roared in appreciation.
Her music has always inspired me and many of her songs are reminders of specific milestones in my life ("Through the Fire" kills me every time), so it does not pain me to admit I cried a few times during her performance.
She took a break after a couple of songs, changing up her clothes and before engaging the crowd with a personal message. Chaka has been very open about her struggles with drug addiction and Piers Morgan booked her specifically for that reason, to speak of Whitney's death just a few short weeks ago. Chaka wasn't mincing words when she told the Palm Springs audience that she started drugs at age 17.
"I've been so high, I put the P in party," she said, beaming that trademark smile at the cheering crowd below. Then she quickly turned more solemn, and said, "but I'm just happy to be alive today."
She then challenged the young revelers, especially those who had children or planned to have children, to be thoughtful and to basically get the fun out of their system now for their child's sake. She shared that she was so caught up in the road and drugs that she went for long period of times without seeing her daughter, who was always asking her to come back. She finally found herself at her own mother's mercy when she did want to see her daughter. It was a poignant story. As I listened, I hoped, as I'm sure she did, that they all were listening, too.
Chaka also told us this 10-piece band was brand new, but they were so tight you'd never know it and her three back-up singers were the perfect compliment to a woman known to record her own voice for back-up purposes long before it was the norm. It was also nice to see Chaka spend so much time interacting directly with the audience, especially those in the front … even bending down to let them speak into her microphone in response to her questions.
As you will see in the photos below, Chaka was joined on stage near the end of her performance by CeCe Penniston for a powerful rendition of "I'm Every Woman," and then Chaka closed the night with "Ain't No Body." CeCe would later bring the weekend to an end on Sunday at Zelda's Nightclub but made appearances at several events, including the Celebrity Dodge Ball game earlier that Saturday afternoon. You'll see photos of CeCe on stage with Chaka below, and more of her in the slideshows taken during her closing night performance at Zelda's, still to come.
Chaka's concert was for me, the best ever in my 22-plus years of attending Dinah weekends. Seeing Indigo Girls three years ago is a very close second, but for many different reasons. Chaka was on fire and definitely delivered to her adoring fans, especially this one.
Check out the spectacular photos Connie Kurtew took of this living legend that Saturday night.
Check out more slideshows from The Dinah 2012 by clicking the related links found above right.
All photos and slideshows copyrighted Kurtew Photography. If you would like to get individual photos or see more photos that might have been taken, email email@example.com.