Funk and R&B powerhouse Chaka Khan just released her first studio album in a decade—a collection of killer, vintage Rufus-style tracks called Funk This. (Listen and download the free MP3 of "Disrespectful" with a special intro and greeting to Rod 2.0 readers. Fierce, no?) The legendary singer-songwriter now adds "Broadway musical" to her ever-expanding skill set. On January 9, the singer-songwriter joins the cast of The Color Purple as the fearless Sofia, the role immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the now-classic film.
Khan tells The New York Times, "I am Sofia. We’re so much alike. Her fundamental application to life is the same emotionally. She’s one of the [pioneers] of women’s liberation and the first non-slave black woman who wasn’t a slave to anybody. I’m like that. I’d rather be dead."
The singer-songwriter says film director Steven Spielberg approached her for the role of nightclub singer Shug Avery, but she refused the part because she couldn't identify with the character. "I did know girls like that, who lost count of [the men] they’d been with. I was raised Catholic, and I was very Catholicized sexually. I had more hangups."
Speaking of Chaka Khan's sexuality: The topic was probably too risque for the Times to explore in detail, but, Out.com's Shana Naomi Krochmal picks up where they left off. Chaka talks about "unlearning" that Catholic repression and previously having lesbian relationships in an interview in the current Out. "Sex is "not a real big thing", she admits. "If men could be more like women, I would definitely be more interested in them. A lot of men are denying their feminine side, which I think is their loss. When a woman meets a man who understands her, who gets her because he feels it too—I can't think of anything more beautiful than that."