Chaka Khan, the Queen of Funk, has a reputation for sometimes being a tough or prickly interview subject. But when I'm put through to her on Zoom she smiles widely and says, "I'm so happy to see you, you don't even know!"
I wish I could say it's because my reputation as an insightful and thoughtful interviewer precedes me but I can't. Instead, it's because I'm the lucky last person she'll be talking to on her exhaustive press day for new Disney movie The One and Only Ivan, which has just been released on Disney+.
The movie is a family adventure in the classic Disney tradition, with moments of excitement, danger and heartfelt emotion. Bryan Cranston leads its all-star cast as the owner of a struggling circus. Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren and Danny DeVito lend their famous voices to various animals.
Khan voices Henrietta, an extravagant and sassy Polish hen, who she describes as "an alpha chicken".
Big movies like this can be creatively restricting so I ask Khan if she had much leeway to deviate from the script and bring the full Chaka Khan vibe to the role.
"Oh, I come with that, baby," she zings, "that's what I come with."
"Henrietta's whole thing is about, 'Come on now. Get up. Let's get it moving, let's get her done,'" she continues, inflecting each phrase with the full funk force that flows effortlessly from her.
"She speaks alpha to me and I'm an alpha broad so we clicked. I have many ways of compelling people to do the things that need to be done."
The way she says it leaves me in no doubt that it's a wholly accurate statement, but Khan's nearly five decades-long reign at the top has not been without incident, both personal and professional. She's been through some things, but always preached the power of positivity.
"Those things that have happened to me, I made them happen. I did that," she says. "By not making yourself a victim that's how you stay positive. Taking credit for your f***-ups. It's hard to do. It ain't easy. But once you're able to do that then you're able to get some peace."
Some of those things Khan has gone through include marriages and divorces and jealous band members as well as hard drug and hard liquor addictions. Finding that strength couldn't have been easy.
"Now it's just habit," she shrugs. "I don't lie. I don't play. The only game I play is Trivial Pursuit. I'm playful but I don't play games."
Then, roaring with laughter, she adds, "Well, it works for me," before getting more philosophical with it.
"When you live on your convictions and live on what your heart tells you to do, that's really living. It's not really living when you're doing what people want you to do or what people expect from you. When you're living yourself and you're living your truth and you're living it truthfully and being honest about it, there's nothing more freeing than that. And that is true life. That's what life is."
She says the movie also reflects this, with silverback gorilla Ivan leading the other animals on a journey towards an objective. He is, she says, chasing a dream.
Having won 10 Grammys and two Soul Train awards, selling an estimated 70 million records and becoming a legendary icon of music, is she still chasing dreams? Khan answers immediately, "Absolutely. Yes. I am a dreamer. The artists are the dreamers of society."
Then with a beaming smile, she says, "Without us, it would be a pretty flat place to be. And very dull indeed."