Story and photos by Spc. Andrew Ingram
U.S. Division-North Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — Critically-acclaimed recording artist Chaka Khan and bluesman Carvin Jones treated servicemembers and civilians in U.S. Division-North to a night of high-energy music at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, July 14.
As Khan began to sing, the audience crowded around the stage to get a better view of the singer. They whistled, danced and sang along as the diva belted out hits and got the crowd involved in the show, sharing the microphone with several members of the audience.
The Grammy Award-winning singer also thanked the troops for their commitment to duty and wished them a safe return to their Families and loved ones.
“This is my wish for all of you,” said Khan. “I wish that all of you would return home safely to everlasting love.”
Sgt. Latasha Scott, Headquarters Support Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, said Khan put on one of the best shows to come through COB Speicher.
“She is a legend,” said Scott, who began listening to Khan as a young girl. “It is so great that she came out … to play for us. She made a lot of Soldiers’ day; I know she totally made mine.”
Jones opened the show with his own brand of the blues.
“I don’t know if you ever heard of us before tonight,” said Jones, moments before kicking off the show. “But we are all going to jam out!”
Jones spent an hour dashing through classic blues and rock ‘n’ roll tracks. He stayed on stage for the vocals, but often waded through the crowd to give audience members an up close and personal look at his musical chops during guitar solos.
“This is amazing,” said Spc. Thilo Finley, 89th Transportation Company, 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “It is such a great honor to see these amazing, talented people come out and support us. The whole show was such a great experience.”
Finley won the door prize — a new electric guitar and a free concert for 89th Trans. featuring Jones when the unit returns to Fort Eustis, Va.
“I don’t play the guitar yet, but you can bet I am going to learn,” said Finley. “This concert is probably one of the best I’ve had in three deployments.”
Jones said he enjoyed playing for the deployed servicemembers and looked forward to playing for them more in the future.
“The highlight for me is that the Soldiers are really enjoying the shows,” said Jones. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came out here to Iraq, but there has been a really fantastic response.”
The bluesman said visiting with the servicemembers throughout Iraq humbles him and makes him appreciate many of the things he takes for granted.
“I have a lot more respect for the troops now that I’ve seen what they have to go through every day,” said Jones. “The heat is unreal, and they are always working. It’s impressive what those guys have to do.”