Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Woman I Am

image That Chaka Khan's voice is one powerful instrument, will be apparent to anyone who has heard her more familiar numbers, such as "I'm Every Woman" or the legendary soul record "Ain't Nobody".

Indeed, the latter had remained my all time favorite for years, until I heard the less familiar "The Woman I Am" from her 1992 album of the same name.

The song was written by Brenda Russell, Chaka Khan and Dyan Cannon. I don't have the CD case to hand, but the production, handled on this album by Marcus Miller, Arif Mardin and the late Wayne Braithwaite, and particularly on this song, is so rich and crisp. I also wish I could tell you who is on drums too, because it's a stunning purposeful performance that adds to the urgency and feeling.

But, of course, the highlight is how Khan's voice meshes with the saxophone as two perfectly matched instruments. For me, hers reaches somewhere that other voices just fail to reach. This particular song also holds a special place for me, as it was released the same year that I moved to the Canary Islands.

"I'll be the woman I am

Now I don't have to hide

All that I feel inside."

... spoke to me directly and was important to me then.

Now that I'm no longer in an environment that suits me or allows me to grow as a person, it's one hell of a lot more important now than it was even then.

Some folk have called me brave for moving to another country alone - I would counter that this could also be seen as foolish - but if I ever doubted, I did also have help and encouragement from Khan belting out lines like, "I had to find out in my own way". And that I certainly did (for better or worse)!

Listening to the song now is a bittersweet experience - as so many things have become for me - that brings back the pleasant memories, at the same time as reminding me of all I've lost with such an unbearable brutality that it crushes my very soul. It would be wrong to withdraw to avoid these stimuli, but at the same time, I have moments like these every day, where I feel unable to deal with the feelings they bring with them and that my brain will explode from the hurt.

Somehow I have to maintain hope that I will find my own way again one day.

The Woman I Am

Hey sister
I never knew which way to go
Everybody had an answer
So I said
Go lecture someone, go lecture someone

I could feel it in my heart babe
I couldn't scream, I couldn't shout
I had to find out in my own way
Ran into someone - ran into someone

I'll be the woman I am
Now I don't have to hide
All that I feel inside
I'll be the woman I am
Just had to let it show
Had nowhere else to go

I had to learn to trust myself
I had to learn just when to say no
Always trying to please someone else
I had to let go, I had to let go

The world is filled of many wonders
I had to look to heaven for my own
I saw the star that I was under
Lord lead me back home, lead me back home

I'll be the woman I am
Now I don't have to hide
All that I feel inside
I'll be the woman I am
Just had to let it show
Had nowhere else to go

I can look at myself and I'm not afraid
I have finally learned how to love
I can feel everything that I've never felt
And I'm sure now that I've always known

Photo: Dwight McCann / Chumash Casino Resort /

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