Chaka Khan makes Chicago proud. That voice, that presence, it all started on the South Side! Before we get you into her history, enjoy an amazing concert from back in 1981 at The Roxy below.
Born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953 and is the oldest of five children and let me tell you, there’s alot of talent in the family too!
For you disco fans, you may remember her sister who went by the name of Taka Boom. She had a hit in ’79 with Night Dancin’. It doesn’t stop there in the family, her brother Mark formed the group Aurra which had hits including “Are You Single”, “Checkin’ You Out” and “Make Up Your Mind.” Later, the group would change its name and label for their 1987 hit on Virgin Records titled “You And Me Tonight”. Check out those jams below
At the age of 11, Chaka formed a girl group [which included her sister Yvette] named The Crystalettes. After dropping out of Calumet High School and Kenwood, she’d began to perform in small groups in the Chicago area including Cash McCall’s group Lyfe which included her then boyfriend Hassan Khan.
In 1970, she replaced Baby Huey from Baby Huey & the Babysitters who were signed to Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records after Huey’s death in 1970. The group, after a long run disbanded.
By 1972, the southsider was asked to join the group Rufus, she’d replace Paulette McWilliams… from there, Rufus was off and running with their new lead singer who’d officially changed her stage name as to Chaka Khan.
Chaka’s voice and personna caught the attention of music icon Stevie Wonder, who wrote the band’s first real hit we all know as “Tell Me Something Good.” The single from the group’s 1974 platinum-selling album, Rags to Rufus, earned Chaka her first GRAMMY® Award. With Chaka as the group’s dynamic center, Rufus became one of the most popular acts around selling out shows throughout the country and dominating the airwaves with hit after hit with songs such as “You Got the Love,” which Chaka co-wrote, “Once You Get Started,” “Sweet Thing,” “Everlasting Love,” as well as their Quincy Jones produced “Do You Love What You Feel”. Check out just a sample of all the great music from Chaka during this period below.
In the 80’s, with successful work in the studio produced by Arif Mardin, by 1984, Chaka and the band would earn another Grammy with “Ain’t Nobody,” which was featured on the “Breakin'” soundtrack. In fact, how about checkin’ out that video as used in the movie below!
The single was also on the ‘reuniting’ album of Chaka with Rufus titled “Stompin’ At The Savoy” released in 1983 which Warner Bros. filmed as part of a documentary that they chose to shelve rather than release. The two album set captured the raw power of the band with Chaka live in concert performing their body of work through the years. The album would include two new singles, “One Million Kisses” and “Ain’t Nobody.” Together, Chaka and the band garnered five RIAA certified gold and platinum albums, “Stompin’ At The Savoy” would bring another Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1984. Check out the original video for “Ain’t Nobody” below.
The 10-time GRAMMY® Award-winner, songwriter, actor, author, philanthropist, entrepreneur and activist has influenced generations of recording artists and she’s still going strong today with a new release titled “Like Sugar” which you can watch further down in our tribute to all her great songs/videos.
From great songs including “I’m Every Woman” [written by Ashford & Simpson] which would later be covered by the late Whitney Houston on the multi-platinum “The Bodyguard” soundtrack to her cover of Prince’s 1979 song “I Feel For You” [which he originally wrote for Patrice Rushen who turned it down] on her 1984 ‘Chinatown’ album which featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Melle Mel performing the ingenious rap. [the song was also recorded but never a release by the Pointer Sisters for their 1982 album “So Excited”] Chaka Khan’s career has been vast, diverse, deep and shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2018, the band and Chaka were nominated into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, as we shake our collective heads, they were not voted in this time around.
Learn more about Chaka Khan below with great solo songs you’ll know, discover and rediscover along with links to her website, social networks, tour dates and her latest release “LIKE SUGAR.” below.
CHAKA KHAN TOUR DATES
SOURCE: Sal Amato