Funk yeah! Chaka Khan kicks off Celebrate Brooklyn

Funk yeah! Chaka Khan kicks off Celebrate Brooklyn
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They let her rock them.

Funk queen Chaka Khan drew thousands of music lovers to Prospect Park on Wednesday evening for the grand opening of this year’s Celebrate Brooklyn concert series. Fans waited in line for hours and braved chilly weather for a seat at the free show, but said it was worth it for the chance to see the legendary performer in person.

“She is a great icon and artist,” said Tejani Mendiz of Crown Heights, who said her mother played her Chaka Khan records when she was a child. “We have to see her in person while we can.” The grounds of the park’s bandshell maxed out at 6,500 fans, and at least as many people ended up camping out on the ball fields behind the performance area, where they partied while watching the show on projection screens.

Khan brought it hard the second she hit the stage, performing her exuberant brand of 1970s soul and jazz and all of her hits, including “I Feel For You,” “I’m Every Woman,” and “Ain’t Nobody.”

This year is the 37th season of the Celebrate Brooklyn program, a summer-long series of free shows in the park that Fort Greene arts organization Bric Arts Media has been running since 1979. Other artists performing at this year’s festival include bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, indie-rock band the New Pornographers, and hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces (see the full lineup here).

Bric’s vice president Jack Walsh addressed the restless crowd before the concert and introduced a parade of local pols, including Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), Borough President Eric Adams, and Public Advocate Letitia James, who got a rousing cheer from the crowd.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurf[email protected]nglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.