Chaka Khan has a promise for ticketholders at her March 10 concert in Savannah: “They will see a damn good show!” says the international music icon.
A singer, songwriter, producer, visual artist, author, actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur, activist, mother and grandmother, Khan began her career in the 1970s as the 18-year-old lead singer of Rufus. Forty years later, she has been awarded 10 Grammy Awards out of 22 nominations.
Khan’s fondest memory as a performer is singing at the White House for former President Barack Obama.
“That was extremely special and historic for me,” Khan says. “It was an emotional performance and I was truly honored.”
Throughout her career, Khan’s music has ranged from rhythm and blues to jazz, pop, rock, gospel, country, classical and dance music. She has released 22 albums, had 10 Billboard No. 1 singles and 11 gold and platinum albums.
In 1999, she established the Chaka Khan Foundation to assist women and children at risk. An entrepreneur as well as a performer, she launched a line of gourmet chocolates called Chakalates, and introduced the Khana Sutra candle, the first product in a fragrance line for men, women and the home.
Born Yvette Stevens, Khan and her sister Bonnie formed a singing group, The Crystalettes, with two friends from school. Khan also sang with several local groups before she became the lead singer for the band Ask Rufus, which would become Rufus. With the addition of Khan, the group began turning out hit after hit.
The oldest of five children, her sister Yvonne became a successful musician under the name Taka Boom, and her brother, Mark, formed the funk group Aurra.
It was Khan’s grandmother who introduced her to jazz as a child. At age 13, she was renamed Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi by a Yoruba Baba, and took the name Khan from her former husband, Hassan Khan.
In 2003, Khan wrote her autobiography, “Through the Fire,” which is currently being updated and adapted into a screenplay.
“The Chaka Khan Songbook” includes music and lyrics of many her hit songs.
Today, Khan lives in Los Angeles. She has two children, Indira Milini and Damien.
“My legacy is my children and my grandchildren,” Khan says. “I would like to be remembered most for being a good person and I want my children to grow up being good people. The world needs more good people.”