Chaka Khan Brings the Heat and Beats to the Zoo

Music in the Zoo hosts Chaka Khan

Last updated on July 6th, 2018 at 01:39 am

Like many people, I love Minnesota summers! And one of my favorite activities during the warm summer months is attending outdoor concerts. I’m very fortunate to live near the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley which puts on a summer music series called Music in the Zoo. It’s a cool venue close to home so I made plans to attend several concerts there in their Weesner Family Amphitheater.

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

Most recently, I had tickets to Chaka Khan. The night of the concert the temperature reached over 100 degrees with the heat index! Not ideal for an outdoor concert. I feared my enjoyment was going to be overshadowed by the heat since I immediately began melting in my seat as I waited for Chaka Khan to take the stage. 

Despite the delayed start, the audience’s anticipation grew and the excitement was palpable when Chaka Khan finally took the stage close to 9pm. The crowd was grooving immediately and I was right there with them! The groovy, lounge feel of the music and the upbeat vibe of the audience was contagious! Funky, feel-good music filled the near 100-degree night air.

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

Dressed in a short shirt dress, leggings and thigh-high boots, Chaka Khan was smoking! This 10 time Grammy award winner, with over 70 million records sold worldwide, packed the 1,450 seat amphitheater. Her big, heartwarming smile stretched all the way to her eyes and made you feel as if you were instant friends.

“Damn, it’s flipping hot, isn’t it??” Chaka Khan exclaimed.

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

Despite the heat, most people stayed standing for the entire concert, dancing to the music and unabashedly adding to the sweat dripping down their foreheads. Even the slow jams couldn’t keep people off their feet. The light breeze was a welcomed reprieve in the intense heat. Joyous, exuberant cries from the crowd would erupt at each kiss of Mother Nature’s breath. The audience craved the few-and-far-between breezes. While a fan from the audience gifted the artist with a fan of her own, many used their programs to fan away a little of the night’s heat. Water stations were available throughout the venue as well, and everyone was strongly encouraged to stay hydrated.

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

While it seemed that Chaka Khan’s vocals strained from their usual strength in her prime as she relied heavily on her backup singers to carry some of the high notes, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. They gracefully bobbed their heads along to the music and appeared enthralled with the tunes. It seemed her music brought a sense of nostalgia to the crowd. “Her vocals are almost as good as twenty years ago. She still has good pipes,” said Dena H. who was also in attendance at the concert. Added Jackie T., “As good as ever. Vintage.”

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

Her 8-man band, made up of 3 guitarists, a keyboardist, a drummer and 3 female singers, kept smooth beats going while Chaka Khan took a few short breaks off stage. Her electric guitarist, Rob “Fonksta” Bacon, had mad skills and knew how to entertain! He even sang with a synthesizer while riffing on his guitar. The stage lighting was well done with color-changing back lights and dynamic shape-shifting lights on the floor of the stage.

Photo by Chris Schorn – Christine Photography

Opening for Chaka Khan was the vocally talented, storytelling Victory Boyd. She shared that she comes from a musical family of 4 brothers, 4 sisters and her 2 parents who are known for performing in Central Park in New York City. Victory said most of her songs were written while she was in Central Park. Her debut album The Broken Instrument was recently released and is available on all digital music platforms.


Chaka Khan’s Setlist:

Written by Chris Schorn

Twin Cities Photographer - Always smilin' and enjoyin' the journey! #ilovemusic


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