Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens, March 23, 1953) is an American recording artist whose career has spanned five decades, beginning in the 1970s as the lead vocalist and focal point of the funk band Rufus. 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 Grammys and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide.
In the course of her solo career, Khan has achieved three gold singles, three gold albums and one platinum album with I Feel for You. With Rufus, she achieved four gold singles, four gold albums, and two platinum albums. She has collaborated with Ry Cooder, Robert Palmer, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Guru, and Mary J. Blige, among others. In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 65th most successful dance artist of all time. She was ranked at number 17 in VH1‘s original list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll. She has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; she was first nominated as member of Rufus in 2011.
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.