Entertainment & Arts

Nile Rodgers: 'Chic song will feature Elton and Miley'

Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Nile Rodgers, Chaka Khan and Janelle Monae Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Elton John and Miley Cyrus (left) will feature on the Chic track penned by Nile Rodgers (centre), along with Chaka Khan and Janelle Monae (right)

Chic's Nile Rodgers has revealed Miley Cyrus, Elton John, Chaka Khan and Janelle Monae will all feature on a track on his forthcoming album.

"There's one song I've written which I'm particularly proud of," Rodgers told the BBC, "which is a four-part harmony song called Queen... Those are the four voices that will stand out."

He said the track sounds "like Crosby Stills and Nash meets Chic".

About Time, due out in June, is the band's first new album in 23 years.

Rodgers has used "lost" tapes of Chic's original line-up as a starting point, including contributions from now-deceased members Bernard Edwards and Luther Vandross.

He has then added new contributions - including the vocals from Cyrus, John, Khan and Monae.

He said he wanted to work with Cyrus after seeing her live for the first time last year, a show he puts in his top two favourite gigs of all time, along with R Kelly.

"I was sitting there with my girlfriend. Our jaws were like… we couldn't believe it. She was killing it."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Nile Rodgers created the new album using "lost" Chic tapes
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Elton John and Nile Rodgers at John's Oscars viewing party where they performed together

But that does not mean Cyrus will be "killing it" on the Chic record.

"Remember it's Crosby Stills and Nash meets Chic - it's all pretty and melodic and beautiful. She doesn't have to belt, she can, but it's not that kind of song. It's a lullaby.

"Like Crosby Stills and Nash and Simon and Garfunkel. It's not country like that but it's beautiful harmonies.

"In a typical Chic record we have a technique that we call 'the gang'. Our records are sung by multiple people, we do 'the gang' vocals. By having those extra textures in the gang, I think it will sound absolutely stunning."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Janelle Monae will also feature on the track Queen

Rodgers called the track - about a girl called Queen and the men in her life who have betrayed her - "a woman empowerment song".

"I sang it for Elton and played it for him the other day after we just finished dong a gig together," said the musician. "He says Queen? Did you write this about me?!"

The pair performed together at John's Oscars viewing party last month.

"I've played with Elton 20 times but I've never played with him in Chic - it was like 'you should be in my band forever!' He was perfect.

"And he was just so excited he called me the next day and said 'Nile, you guys are like maybe the best band I've ever played with.' I said, 'coming from you that's ridiculous!'."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chaka Khan recently sang "the paint of the walls" according to Rodgers

Rodgers said it was unlikely logistics would allow him to get the all-star quartet in the studio together, though.

"I've just got to get it done. Unfortunately Elton is doing a residency in Vegas soon, but Miley lives in LA and so does Chaka, so that could all happen at once.

"But it's not necessary, because it's all written already, it's all composed. I can envision it already, I can hear it in my head - it's beautiful and it's a great song."

'Janelle is perfect'

Rodgers enlisted Khan after performing with her in Dubai recently when "she sang the paint off the walls". Monae impressed him when the two spent time in the studio together a fortnight ago.

"She was perfect. Everything I gave her to sing - and I like to push vocalists, so I was pushing her and pushing her and pushing her and she just kept going and she was nailing it."

Chic's first single from the album, I'll Be There, will be released on 20 March. The band kick off their UK tour at London's Roundhouse on the same date, before moving on to Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

Rodgers is also appearing at London Electronic Arts Festival (LEAF) on Friday, where he's being given the floor for three hours - "un-moderated, uncensored and unlimited".

"I don't like moderators because they ask stupid questions," he told the BBC, "but I don't mind the people asking me questions. I'll be thrilled for them to ask questions.

"I'm going to talk, I'm going to play, I've brought my guitar with me. I'll break down the essence of some songs.

"Like why did I take Let's Dance - which [David] Bowie wrote as a folk song - and make it this funky jazzy thing?

"Why did I write I'm Coming Out for Diana Ross? People love to hear how something went from nothing, an idea."

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