Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

KHAN, Chaka

(b Yvette Marie Stevens, 23 March '53, Great Lakes IL) Singer. Grew up on Chicago's South Side; formed group the Crystalettes at age eleven, took name Chaka (Fire) when working with the Black Panthers in a breakfast programme. Quit school and worked with group Lyfe and the Babysitters '69, then formed Rufus with Kevin Murphy and Andre Fisher, both ex- American Breed: new soul/dance group had nine top 40 single hits '74--9 incl. 'Tell Me Something Good' (no. 3 '74), 'Sweet Thing' (no. 5 '76); also eleven chart LPs incl. no. 4 Rags To Rufus '74, Rufusized and Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan '75, both at no. 7. After two more top 15 LPs she went solo while still obligated for two more Rufus LPs; when she made them, Masterjam '79 was again a top 15 LP but Camouflage '81 barely made the top 100. Rufus were on ABC, then MCA; Rufus fans followed her to solo work on WB, but the eclectic use she made of her gorgeous voice confused them: first LP Chaka '78 incl. no. 21 USA single 'I'm Every Woman', duet with George Benson 'We Got The Love', reached no. 12 in LP chart; Naughty '80 made only no. 43; What Cha' Gonna Do For Me '81 was no. 17, with no. 53 title single, all prod. by Arif Mardin with West Coast WB session players. In '82 she released Chaka Khan (no. 52 LP) and Echoes Of An Era on Elektra/Musician, with Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, Joe Henderson, a tribute to '50s jazz; and reunited with Rufus in Feb. to record Live: Stompin' At The Savoy '83 on WB: two-disc set with one side recorded in studio incl. top ten hit 'Ain't Nobody', reached no. 50. Solo I Feel For You '84 was a no. 14 LP, helped by no. 3 title hit written by Prince, then Destiny '87, C.K. '88 did much less well, Life Is A Dance/The Remix Project '89 didn't chart, but The Woman I Am '92 was back in the top 100.