About this Artist
Chaka Khan is a pop culture icon. Her distinctive voice and style have influenced generations all over the world. The 10-time GRAMMY Award-winning superstar has defined pop, soul, jazz, and funk music. For Chaka, her empowering anthem “I’m Every Woman” is more than just a song; it’s a way of life.
2023 marked a milestone commemorating her 50th anniversary in the music industry. The golden celebration was an experience filled with surprises and once-in-a-lifetime moments that added to the tapestry of a groundbreaking career. It launched with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Celebration that featured a memorabilia installation of an extraordinary ride through Chaka’s musical journey.
For five decades Chaka has made a profound impact in the lives of millions of people around the world. With music sales and streams exceeding 70 million, Aretha Franklin proclaimed Chaka as a “one-of-a-kind, premier vocalist.” Prince, Whitney Houston, Erykah Badu, and Lizzo are just a handful of superstars who have called Chaka a major influence. She’s released 21 studio albums, 10 of which were certified gold and platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).On the Billboard charts, Chaka has racked up an impressive 10 #1 singles. “Woman Like Me” released in 2022, promoted self-respect for all women and encouraged them to live in their own truth.
“Someone needs to be a voice that they can listen to and maybe see life differently and see themselves differently,” Chaka says.
Growing up in Chicago, Chaka learned to trust her instincts and follow her dreams. Early on, she caught the attention of music icon Stevie Wonder, who penned her first hit single with the band Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good.” Featured on the band’s second album Rags to Rufus, the song earned Chaka her first GRAMMY Award and became a Top 5 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100chart, as well as its R&B Songs chart.
Rufus, fronted by Chaka, was one of the biggest acts of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They electrified audiences and critics with their sold-out shows. Their catalog of songs including “Ain’t Nobody, “Once You Get Started,” “Sweet Thing,” “Do You Love What You Feel,” and “You Got the Love,” co-written by Chaka, have stood the test of time. As a solo artist, Chaka continued to achieve hit after hit. “Clouds,” “What’Cha Gonna Do for Me,” “Through the Fire,” and “I’m Every Woman” have become classics in pop and soul music.
In 1982, Chaka’s acclaimed jazz album Echoes of an Era featured greats Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. With songs from the Great American Songbook, it was a hit on Billboard’s Jazz Album chart, further displaying Chaka’s versatility and cementing her legendary status.
But it was Chaka’s rendition of Prince’s “I Feel for You” that launched her into the stratosphere. As one of the most iconic songs of the 1980’s, the chart-topping smash made history becoming the first R&B song to feature a rap, which was performed by Grandmaster Melle Mel. Chaka also lent her voice to two of the biggest GRAMMY-winning hits of 1986, Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” and Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” Additional collaborations include George Benson, Mary J. Blige, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Miles Davis, who said of Chaka, “She sings like my horn.“
In 1995, she made her theater debut on London’s esteemed West End, starring in Mama I Want to Sing. In 2002, Chaka headlined Signed, Sealed Delivered, the critically acclaimed musical based on the music of Stevie Wonder. She then came to Broadway in 2008 in the leading role of Sophia in Oprah Winfrey’s Tony-nominated musical The Color Purple.
Offstage, Chaka is a successful entrepreneur. Her line of gourmet chocolates, called Chakalates, were sold in Neiman Marcus. Her Khan Sutra, a unisex home fragrance collection, features candles and room and linen sprays.
Chaka has been the recipient of many accolades. Achievements include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame, Soul Train’s Legend Award, BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Triumph Award, the World Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, the United Negro College Fund’s An Evening of Stars Tribute, and a GRAMMY Honors Award from the NARAS Chicago Chapter. In 2004, Chaka received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
“I’m just the sum of all of those amazing experiences,” says Chaka. “My father gave me the best advice, ‘stay humble.’ I live with that."
Her deep commitment to humanity led her to establish the Chaka Khan Foundation. For close to 25 years, the foundation has implemented initiatives that have empowered and brought awareness to women and children at risk, particularly children with autism. Her leadership was acknowledged by the McDonald’s 365Black Awards, given to outstanding individuals who are making positive contributions that strengthen the community.
Chaka’s compassion comes from her own experiences. In her 2003 memoir “Through the Fire,” Chaka shared her ups and downs. Writing candidly about her substance use, she offered hope and encouragement for all. As Chaka says, “Walking through life is really walking through fire.”
Chaka Khan is a maverick trailblazer. A survivor. Dedicated to inspire, create art, and share her loving and radiant and spirit with the world. “Every personal experience of my life impacts my music and my art,” Chaka says. “You’ve just got to follow your own path. You have to trust your heart.”