Happy Birthday Chaka Khan

Happy Birthday to the great Chaka Khan born March 23, 1953

Yvette Marie Stevens, better known by her stage name Chaka Khan. Her career has spanned nearly five decades, beginning in the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the funk band Rufus. Khan received public attention for her vocals and image. Known as the “Queen of Funk”, Khan was the first R&B artist to have a crossover hit featuring a rapper, with “I Feel for You” in 1984. Khan has won ten Grammy Awards and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide.

Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953 into an artistic, bohemian household in Chicago, Illinois. The eldest of five children born to Charles Stevens and Sandra Coleman, she has described her father as a beatnik and her mother as “able to do anything.” She was raised in the Hyde Park area, “an island in the middle of the madness” of Chicago’s rough South Side housing projects. Her sister Yvonne later became a successful musician in her own right under the name Taka Boom. Her only brother, Mark, who formed the funk group Aurra, also became a successful musician. She has two other sisters, Zaheva Stevens and Tammy McCrary. Khan was raised as a Catholic. She attended the elementary school of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park. She attributed her love of music to her grandmother, who introduced her to jazz as a child. Khan became a fan of rhythm and blues music as a preteen and at eleven formed a girl group, the Crystalettes, which included her sister Taka. In the late 1960s, Khan attended several civil rights rallies with her father’s second wife, Connie, a strong supporter of the movement and joined the Black Panther Party after befriending a fellow member, activist and Chicago native Fred Hampton in 1967. Though many think that she was given the name Chaka while in the Panthers, she has made it clear that her name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi was given to her at age 13 by a Yoruba Baba. In 1969, she left the Panthers and dropped out of high school, having attended Calumet High School and Kenwood High School (now Kenwood Academy). She began to perform in small groups around the Chicago area, first performing with Cash McCall’s group Lyfe, which included her then-boyfriend Hassan Khan. Chaka and Hassan married in 1970.

She was asked to replace Baby Huey of Baby Huey & the Babysitters after Huey’s death in 1970. The group disbanded a year later. While performing in local bands in 1972, Khan was spotted by two members of a new group called Rufus and soon won her position in the group (replacing rock n roll singer Paulette McWilliams). The group caught the attention of musician Ike Turner who flew them out to Los Angeles to record at his studio Bolic Sound in Inglewood, California. Turner wanted Khan to become an Ikette; she declined stating she was “really happy with Rufus. But Ike’s attention was certainly a boost.

Khan is the mother of two, daughter Indira Milini and son Damien Holland. Khan moved to Europe, first settling in London, later buying a residence in Germany. She lived in Germany for a while “in a little village in the Rhine Valley” and also in Mannheim.

To date, Khan has won ten Grammy Awards, including two as a member of Rufus. She has received 22 Grammy Award nominations, including three as a member of Rufus.

To date, she has had four American Music Award nominations.

🔹1985 Favorite Female Artist – Soul/Rhythm & Blues

🔹1982 Favorite Female Artist – Soul/Rhythm & Blues

🔹1981 Favorite Female Artist – Soul/Rhythm & Blues

SoulMusic Hall of Fame at SoulMusic.com

🔸Inducted: Female Artist December 2012

UK Music Video Awards

🔸2018 Best Color Grading in a Video: Like Sugar (won)

🔸2018 Best Editing: Like Sugar (won)