Grand dame: the legendary Chaka Khan in Sydney. Photo: Edwina Pickles
She has not performed in Australia for a decade, but on Saturday night American soul superstar Chaka Khan will make a triumphant return to headline the Sydney Festival's free event, Summer Sounds in the Domain, to a hoped-for audience of about 60,000.
Khan, born Yvette Marie Stevens, 60 years ago, says she will perform all her biggest hits but, contrary to appearances, she may not necessarily enjoy herself when she does so.
''I'm real tired of singing a lot of the songs, but there are some songs that I can never stop doing. I have to do them because they're songs that people love.
''Ain't Nobody I don't mind; it's still a fun song to do,'' she says of her biggest hit with the Chicago funk outfit Rufus, with whom she began her career in 1972.
''Sweet Thing is OK. But I've done so many great songs … When I'm onstage people will be yelling titles to me [such as] Papillon, Father He Said - y'know, great songs. Songs that I would have chosen as singles if I had the wherewithal.''
Nonetheless, Khan has had a stellar career, staying relevant in R&B, if not necessarily pop, throughout the past 40 years, having won Grammy awards in the 1970s, '80s, '90s and 2000s.
Yet she is best known for her '80s' output, which puts her in good company in coming months because also touring soon are Australian rockers Hunters & Collectors, Brit troubadour Billy Bragg and, for the second time in a year, American heroes Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Like Springsteen and Bragg, Khan is still making new music. She says she has an album ''ready to go. I'm trying to figure out in what way I want to release it'' and says the reason for her continued motivation is that music is her calling.
''I'm interested in people, I'm living life. Life is my motivation - y'know, the daily stuff. The little things, mostly. And it's also my sanity … it's a form of therapy for me, as well. I'm really just happy to still be in the game.''
The free event Summer Sounds in the Domain takes place tonight from 8pm.