Black History: Special Delivery!!
Legendary R & B singer, Chaka Khan was born, Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953. Born, in Great Lakes, IL, she gained international acclaim for her signature sound and stage presence. Khan gained popularity beginning in the 1970’s. Her first singing group, the Crystalettes, was comprised of Khan and her sister Yvonne when she was 11 years old. She identifies singers such as Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight as some of her early musical inspirations. Later Khan and her sister launched the musical group, “The Shades of Black”.
Khan joined the Black Panther Party in 1969 at age 16. She sold newspapers for the Black Panther Party and also worked in the party’s free breakfast program for children. Before joining the Black Panther Party she changed her name from Yvette Marie Stevens to Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She received her new name as part of a Yoruba naming ceremony. She married bassist Hassan Khan in 1970, thus changing her name to Chaka Khan. She would then drop out of high school and sing in various R & B groups; finally joining the R & B group, “Rufus” . The group experienced only minimal success until they released, “Tell Me Something Good” which was written by Stevie Wonder. Later, Chaka Khan would launch her solo career with the blockbuster hit, “I’m Every Woman”. Khan is the recipient of several Grammy awards.
Khan’s battles to overcome alcohol and drug addiction is something she openly acknowledges. In 1999 she established the Chaka Kahn Foundation to assist women battling substance use. Khan has two children, a daughter, Milini born in 1973 to her first husband Hassan Khan and Damien, born in 1978 to her second husband Richard Holland. Both marriages ended in divorce. She has been married to Doug Rasheed since 2001. Khan is still active on the music scene performing both nationally and internationally.
Check out this 1974 of Chaka Khan and Rufus performing, “Tell Me Something Good” on Soul Train. It’s a classic!