Chaka Khan is perfect pick for PrideFest

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It’s hard to imagine an artist more perfect to headline the Pittsburgh PrideFest than Chaka Khan, whose exuberance and charisma has drawn in fans far and wide for decades, both good and bad.

Her performance at the city’s biggest dance party, Saturday’s PrideFest, Downtown, only forced us to remember why we’re still falling for her – her spirits are high, and her music is just as melodic and catchy as it's always been. She strutted across the stage in a sequined top and sequined microphone over the course of her hour-long set, interacting with both her band and the audience, whose palpable energy only matched hers.

“I’ll just say this one thing: I could not miss being here tonight,” she told a screaming audience at one point, explaining that she had gotten on a plane at 5 o’clock that morning. “I love you, I love you, and you all prayed for me and I will give you everything I’ve got."

Using perhaps her two most popular songs, '80s hits “I Feel for You” and “Ain’t Nobody," Ms. Khan bookended her set in a way that acted as a throwback to some of her earlier work, but was present and lively.

From start to finish, the audience danced and sang along; even in the most tender or melancholic moments in songs, the audience never lost momentum. Just as expected, it was a dance party. People and vendors lined Liberty Avenue throughout the night.

Despite a screaming crowd, Ms. Khan strategically planted energy in various moments. “Angel” was gentle and emotional – a song she said was written to remind herself that she’s an angel, and that we’re all angels. “Somebody somewhere loves us,” she said.

“I’m Every Woman,” on the other hand, was ebullient as she shimmied and shook around the stage.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a city event without the presence of Mayor Bill Peduto. “You look amazing!” he told a boisterous audience while introducing the singer.

Her rhythms were sharp and her music was full of melody and funk, making the entire city feel alive.

Kate Mishkin:

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