Musicality – Ariana Grande, Chaka Khan, Qveen Herby

Ariana Grande
Thank U, Next
(Republic/UMG)

This is Ariana Grande’s year. She’s truly at the top. I can tell she’s made it because my coworkers complain about there being too many Ariana Grande songs on the radio. She released a successful album, Sweetener, last year, but it was a tumultuous year in her personal life. Now she has risen to the top of the Billboard charts. I’ve become a fan of Grande in the last two years – not so much her lyrics, though they can be quite creative – but her vocals are amazing. Her range is hard to match, and that’s been her money-maker. Her voice is too often compared to Mariah Carey’s, but the more music that Grande releases, the less that comparison is made. My favorite songs are “Imagine,” “Bloodline” and “Bad Idea.”

Chaka Khan
Hello Happiness
(Diary/Island/Universal)

Chaka Khan is back, and I needed this. The opening of the album, in the title track, draws you in with its funky backbeat and Khan’s incredible vocals. The classic song “I’m Every Woman,” on her 1978 solo debut album, showed off that voice, and this album is a fresh reminder of her musical powers. Since the 1970s, she has lost nothing vocally. She doesn’t sound too modernized, which is nice. Not everything good these days needs to sound like pop. My only complaint is that the album is just seven songs long, but I’m so glad that she released new music that I’ll take it. My favorite songs from this amazing soul album are “Like A Lady,” “Too Hot,” and “Isn’t That Enough.”

Qveen Herby
EP 5
(Checkbook Records)

I’ve never used Twitter to browse new artists, but that may change now. Happy accidents happen, and this one was magical. A person who I follow liked one of Qveen Herby’s tweets about Janelle Monae’s Grammy performance, and it showed up on my Twitter feed. Otherwise, I might not have ever come across this fresh artistic voice. She’s an R&B singer and rapper, and she’s fantastic at both. Her refreshing voice sounds nothing like any other rapper I’ve heard recently. She has yet to release a full-length album, but she has been releasing EPs since 2017 and this is her fifth one. Last year, she released two EPs with five songs – roughly the equivalent of an album. My favorite song here is “My Man.”