Chaka Khan to receive UNCF’s Highest Honor on its 32nd Annual TV Special
By Sentinel News Service
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) – the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization – has chosen Chaka Khan, the legendary Queen of Funk Soul, to receive its prestigious Award of Excellence at UNCF’s 32nd annual An Evening of Stars.
Presented by Target, in addition to Khan’s appearance as honoree, the program will include a host of stars who will pay tribute to Khan by performing songs she has made famous and will highlight the 60,000 students whose education UNCF supports each year. UNCF’s An Evening of Stars will be taped September 25 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and televised nationally in January 2011. Pre-sale tickets will be available for 50% off by using code “AEOS 2011” through Ticketmaster and Pasadena Civic Auditorium Box office from August 13th-August 27th.
UNCF is honoring Khan for her distinguished career as an artist, her longstanding support of UNCF and for her personal philanthropic endeavor, the Chaka Khan Foundation, founded in 1999 to help women and children at risk. She has been a frequent performer on An Evening of Stars and has lent her support to numerous other UNCF fundraising events over the years. Previous AEOS Award of Excellence honorees include Lou Rawls (2004), Quincy Jones (2005), Stevie Wonder (2006), Aretha Franklin (2007), Smokey Robinson (2008), Patti LaBelle (2009) and Lionel Richie (2010).
“We recognize Chaka Khan not only as a dynamic and creative singer-songwriter and one of the leading talents of her generation, but also for her commitment to education, both through her generous support for UNCF and through the work of the Chaka Khan Foundation,” said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., UNCF president and CEO. “The Foundation’s work, mentoring college-bound middle school students, and UNCF’s work helping those students get to and through college, are important contributions to helping our young people get the college education they deserve and that we, as a nation, need them to have.”
A ten-time Grammy Award-winner, best known for such hit songs as “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nobody,” “I Feel for You” and “Through the Fire,” Khan helped define the Eighties with her distinctive vocal style and boundless energy. Her career took off after she caught the attention of another UNCF honoree, Stevie Wonder, who wrote “Tell Me Something Good” for Khan and Rufus, the band in which Khan began her career. “Tell me Something Good” reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy in 1974. A string of hits followed, including “Once you Get Started,” “Sweet Thing,” “Everlasting Love,” and “Do You Love What You Feel?”
Eventually, Khan went solo. Her career soared with the Ashford and Simpson-written hit “I’m Every Woman” and other hits including “Clouds,” “Papillon,” “What’ Cha Gonna Do For Me?” and, the song that made Chaka Khan a household name, “I Feel For You,” written by longtime admirer and friend, Prince. Khan’s musical versatility has enabled her to collaborate with iconic artists such as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Winwood and many others. Her latest Grammy for Best R&B Album, 2007’s “Funk This,” featured a duet with Mary J. Blige entitled “Disrespectful,” which also won a Grammy for Best R&B performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
In addition to her back-to-back Billboard Top 10 hits, “Angel” and “One for All Time” from “Funk This,” Khan has performed on Broadway, portraying “Sofia” in The Color Purple and has written an autobiography, “Through the Fire,” in which she talks about her most painful experiences in order to help inspire others to overcome obstacles in life.
Returning for his 14th year as executive producer and director of UNCF’s An Evening of Stars is six-time Emmy Award winner Louis J. Horvitz. One of the industry’s most accomplished and sought-after live television producer-directors, Horvitz directed the annual Academy Awards telecast for 13 years. He has also helmed the Prime Time Emmy Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors and the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award tributes. In 2010, Horvitz directed the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, the Vancouver Winter Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the American Film Institute Tribute to Mike Nichols and has been nominated for an Emmy for the most recent Kennedy Center Honors.