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Chaka Khan Is Headlining the 2023 Melbourne International Jazz Festival with Nile Rodgers & Chic

MIJF's full ten-day lineup spans more than 100 events, including 11 world premieres and ten Australian-exclusive performances.
By Sarah Ward
August 29, 2023
By Sarah Ward
August 29, 2023

Icon alert: in a year that's already bringing everyone from Kraftwerk, Devo and Paul McCartney to Sparks, Ms Lauryn Hill and Christina Aguilera Australia's way, Chaka Khan is also heading Down Under. The American singer and ten-time Grammy-winner will headline the 2023 Melbourne International Jazz Festival, putting on a one-night-only Aussie-exclusive show at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. And joining her onstage? Nile Rodgers & Chic while they're in the country for Harvest Rock.

That evening of tunes will be all about icons teaming up with icons, clearly. Khan — aka the Queen of Funk — will celebrate five decades in the music industry with talents that've been around just as long. Among the Chicago-born singer's hits: 'I'm Every Woman', which was later covered by Whitney Houston; the Prince-penned 'I Feel for You'; and 'Ain't Nobody' with her funk band Rufus.

Rodgers and Chic will bust out 'Le Freak' and 'Good Times', and also revel in their own hefty history. And, there's also the former's prowess as a guitarist to relish — which has seen him pop up on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, including single 'Get Lucky'. As a writer and producer, too, he's had a hand in everything from David Bowie's Let's Dance album to Madonna's 'Like a Virgin'.

Khan, Rodgers and Chic will be supported by Kaiit and Horns of Leroy at their six-hour opening-weekend show, which will help launch MIFJ's 26th festival. Running from Friday, October 20–Sunday, October 29 at venues around Melbourne, the rest of the fest's lineup spans more than 100 events, with 11 world premieres and ten Australian-exclusive performances on that list.

Lisa Simone, daughter of Nina Simone, will take to Hamer Hall's stage to sing her mother's songs, while the Hot 8 Brass Band will host and lead the Second Line Street Party, a New Orleans jazz parade along the Yarra, Southbank and into Fed Square. The fest's international contingent is bringing Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven, GoGo Penguin and SFJAZZCollective to Melbourne as well, alongside trumpeters Marquis Hill and Ingrid Jensen.

Also on offer: Raw Denshi, with the Australian Art Orchestra teaming up with Japanese hip hop's Kojoe and Hikaru Tanaka — and a collaboration featuring William Barton's didgeridoo sounds and Nduduzo Makhathini's jazz stylings.

Or, jazz fans can hit up Federation Square to see Bumpy Thndo and Rita Satch play for free, then get their toes tapping to Afrobeat at Beasts of No Nation, where 87-year-old Ghanaian guitarist Ebo Taylor will make his Australian debut.

Throw in Australian names such as Elixir and Paul Grabowsky AO, Chapel Off Chapel hosting five days of jazz, JazzLab in Brunswick welcoming late-night jams, and outdoor dining and tunes at Grazeland, and this hefty program keeps throwing up more and more reasons to attend.

The 2023 Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs from Friday, October 20–Sunday, October 29 at venues around Melbourne. Head to the festival's website for further details, and for tickets from 8am on Tuesday, August 29.

Published on August 29, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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