1981: Chaka Khan Heats Up America with "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me"

Chaka Khan
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By 1981, Chaka Khan was on a roll.

Her first two solo albums, 1978's Chaka and 1980's Naughty, had cemented her name in a lineup of American soul, jazz and funk royalty. Whether solo or alongside Rufus, Khan's compelling and piercing vocals virtually guaranteed gold album status with every release. 

And the superstar showed no signs of stopping. Given the smashing success she'd chalked up by teaming up with producer Arif Marden on her first two albums, Khan brought Marden back to the studio to the effect of "third time's the charm" for her third solo album. 

Reuniting in Europe in 1980, the dynamic duo weaved between jazz and rhythm-and-blues to create a compelling feast for the ear. Their resulting collaborative album would become the epicenter of the eclectic soundscape the two had mapped out together, thus far.

Amongst much loved tunes, including the refined "We've Got Each Other" and a moving adaption of Dizzy Gillespie's "And the Melody Linger On," the album's biggest hit proved to be its funky title track, "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me."

The smoking cover of the Average White Band tune shot to the height of the US R&B Charts, locking in as the second of the album's four No. 1 singles. Filled with Khan's trademark blend of flouncing sensuality and funk-rock confidence, the single also marked Khan's second entry on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 53.

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Album artwork

By 1981, Chaka Khan was on a roll.

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