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Baker's Dozen

Licence To Sing: Afrodeutsche's Favourite Albums
Manu Ekanayake , June 27th, 2023 10:07

From a childhood spent dancing to Top Of The Pops, a complicated relationship with Michael Jackson and the tragic loss of her tape collection, Afrodeutsche takes Manu Ekanayake through the thirteen albums that changed her life


Chaka Khan – I Feel For You

I first heard this when I was still living in London as a toddler. It was my mum and my aunt who played it to me. It’s my first memory of how much my mum and my aunt loved music. And it was on repeat. And we would dance; I mean we wouldn't sit down and listen to it. I would hear Chaka Khan's voice and I would be up and dancing to it in the room with my aunt and my mum. What better way to spend your time as a toddler? My mum is so into music and I stole pretty much all of her seven inch record collection! I mean, as soon as she didn't have a turntable anymore it was like, “Well I do, so...” I did a whole show on 6Music where I just played all my 7 inches and these were the 7 inches that we used to dance to. She would link the speakers in the front room to the stereo system and the TV so when Top Of The Pops came on then it was coming through the stereo speakers. This was so hardcore, I mean the glass coffee table was getting pushed to one side so we could dance and everything. Dancing with my mum and watching Top Of The Pops was my everything for a long time.

So Chaka Khan will forever be in my heart. As I got older and listened to more of her work I just realised just how stunning she is an artist, drummer, vocalist... I'll listen to some songs and think “Only Chaka Khan would come in after that verse on that particular note. Only she would do that. Only she could, quite frankly.” But this album was a turning point for me because it meant that I started to understand music, musicians and what's possible with your voice. And you know the idea that you can be a vocalist but you can have a band, while also being an artist. I was called a polymath the other day and I admit I had to Google it. 'What's a polymath? It’s someone who's really good at maths, right?' I think that's where I picked this up from. People who weren't in just one lane. Lauryn Hill was not in just one lane. Chaka Khan was not in one lane. And again these were people I could look to as I shaped my own ideas. But that one is going back for me, it really is.