Chaka Khan, born Yvette Marie Stevens, is an American singer with a bustling career that has stretched over five decades. Daughter of Charles Stevens and Sandra Coleman, she grew up in Chicago’s south side housing projects alongside four siblings, in her music-loving family.
Attributing her love of music to her grandmother, who first introduced her to jazz as a young child, Khan became a fan of R&B as a preteen and subsequently formed the girl group, The Crystalettes, with her sister, Taka, at eleven years old. It was at the young age of thirteen that her name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi was given to her by a Yoruba Babalawo. She adopted the last name Khan from her first marriage to childhood friend Hassan Khan.
It was while she was performing with local bands around the Chicago area in 1972 that she was first discovered by two members of the group Rufus, one of the most commercially successful funk groups of the 70’s. It was this great collaboration that launched her esteemed career, and put Rufus on the Billboard charts.
Scouted by Ike Turner to record at his iconic studio Bolic Sound, she declined the invitation to become an “Ikette”, though the attention from the infamous musician boosted the group’s success. Rufus went on to release six platinum-selling albums from 1974 to 1979. In 1978 Chaka Khan signed her first solo contract with Warner Bros. Records, and released her solo debut album, featuring the popular hit “I’m Every Woman”.
Winner of ten Grammy Awards, and twenty-two Grammy Award nominations, Chaka Khan has been collecting awards since the early onset of her career with Rufus, receiving her first award for Rufus’ performance of “Tell Me Something Good” in 1975. To this day, Chaka Khan continues to release hit singles, and earn awards for her fundamental contributions to funk and R&B, and has been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times as a solo artist. In 2022, the ULC officially welcomed her into the fold as an ordained minister.
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