I remember the first time I heard it. We were camping. I couldn't have been more than nine or ten and I, along with my cousin, was trying to hang out with the teenagers. The great thing about the teenagers back then is that they weren't trying to shew us little kids away. They took us with them until our parents could corral us back to our tents.
The lyrics didn't mean much to me as a little girl. The tune though, and the sweet voice of Chaka Khan, always had me dreaming of having a voice just like that. On my tenth birthday, my dad's best friend gifted me a bunch of cassettes. The Mary Jane Girls, Madonna (Like A Virgin), Klymaxx, and of course the lovely Chaka Khan. I remember when I opened the box, I thought I would cry tears of happiness.
Chaka Khan represented, for me, the emergence and discovery of entertainers that I could identify with. My father listened to Hawaiian music, Tom Jones, Nat King Cole, Bob Marley, and some country music. My mother wasn't really into the music scene. I recall her playing Samoan music on rare occasions. So, for me, getting a Chaka Khan cassette was a magic moment.
I felt like I looked like her. The caramel skin and the thick hair were so different from the artists on the scene and it was new to me. Beautiful to me! There I was, a little Polynesian girl, coming up with parents that had different musical tastes than mine having to navigate my own way through the music. I have to say though, I do love some of the music my dad enjoys. I love my Hawaiian music and Samoan music. I can still rock She's A Lady by Tom Jones and Nat King Cole still soothes me with Mona Lisa. That's me now but me back then had to do a little researching to find the rhythm that moved/moves me.
Through the Fire is one of those songs that, as I age, the meaning goes deeper. The imagery of a fire and having to endure it and go through it to preserve love is, in itself, proof of the depth of my love. The song seems to play in the background of all the events that have occurred in my life. Just today I wrote in my journal the following:
It's obvious that the issues in my life is to learn to be more compassionate, to learn to express and practice unconditional love. These are the issues that I observe always coming forward in terms of the types of challenges I face.
The problem has never been the people around me. The problem or the thing that needs to be fixed is ME. Through the Fire was playing when I suffered my first crush. I was sure it was love. I was sure he was the one I wanted to be with forever (even if we were only 15) and ever. **rolling my eyes** I'm glad that friendship never panned out. We were just all wrong for each other. Through the Fire was playing when I fell in love with my first husband, married him, divorced him, and it helped me mourn the ending of the relationship. Through the Fire is playing now, in the sixth year of marriage to my second husband, when things are a little rocky. The song is serving to remind me that I want this love to stand the test of time. I want it to survive beyond the crazy trials of this lifetime.
So I thank Chaka Khan for performing this song in all the love moments in my life. Her voice, so beautiful. Her look, so enchanting! She had me wanting to be just like her. If only I could have that voice!