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Singer Chaka Khan smiles with a microphone in her hand wearing a black dress

Chaka Khan Smiles Amid Criticism of National Anthem Performance at NBA All-Star Game

Gettyimages | Erika Goldring
By Brooks Brown

Soul legend Chaka Khan put her own signature vocal style on the National Anthem at Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in a performance that has drawn mixed reviews and reactions from critics and fans alike. The 53-year-old singer and Chicago native appeared mid-court wearing a personalized sequin Bulls jersey with Michael Jordan's number (23) and gave a vocal performance that featured the improvisational style of singing that she is famous for. Critics were quick to react, especially on Twitter, where the performance trended higher than the game itself.

Singer embraces being with friends and fans in Hometown

Chaka Khan performs on stage with microphone
Gettyimages | Don Arnold

Despite the immediate backlash, the singer shared joyful social posts with fellow celebs, friends and family alike sporting her trademark wide smile. In one Instagram post, with Queen Latifah and Tiffany Hadish, Khan says, "#NBAAllStar2020 game was so much fun & exciting in my hometown 🏀 #Chicago💜." In another post,. she appears to be enjoying the event with her cousin, Bruce, and manager George.

One fan on Twitter wrote, "I adore Chaka Khan. She is a living legend, but I DID NOT like that rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner AT ALL. Lord help her."

History of a Living Legend

Giphy

Chaka Khan, born Yvette Marie Stevens, came to fame in the 1970s singing in the funk band Rufus. She has won 10 Grammy awards and has sold an estimated 70 million records world-wide. She made music history in 1984 by being the first R&B artist to have a crossover hit featuring a rapper, with "I Feel for You," a song written by Prince.

Performance compared to Fergie

Fergie sings into a microphone
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fergie_(1518479465).jpg

Many commenters on Twitters compared Khan's Sunday performance to Fergie's controversial rendition of the national anthem at last year's NBA All-Star game. The backlash led to an apology by the former Black Eyed Peas singer.

Khan hasn't released a statement to the press, however, many of Khan's devoted fans came to her defense. One fan with the handle Paris Milan tweeted, "Y'all will NOT drag #chakakhan on my watch 😂. If you grew up on her music, you know she loves to improvise her notes and has an eclectic voice. I don't feel she sounded worse than Fergie by far though."

Honoring Kobe

Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant
Gettyimages | Rob Carr

The All-Star game featured many tributes to the late Kobe Bryant who died tragically in a helicopter crash last month with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Former President Barack Obama, Dr. Dre, Magic Johnson and Jennifer Hudson honored Bryant throughout the weekend's ceremonies. Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers won the first ever MVP award named after Kobe Bryant over the weekend. The outcome of the game was Team Giannis beating Team LeBron by a score of 157-155.

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