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Chaka Khan
Feb 13 2021

#RockHall2021 Nominees


Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago) came to prominence with the innovative funk/rock group Rufus in the 1970s. With a voice possessing both seductive fire and sweet smoke, Khan was equally ferocious and feminine, and she was Rufus’ secret weapon. Funk queen, rock goddess, jazz singer, disco diva – Khan has been called, and has transcended, all of these. At a time when audiences for rock and soul were splitting into different camps, Khan’s voice represented the racial and social integration at the heart of rock & roll.   


With her incredible vocal range and mastery of dynamics, Khan has recorded durable and powerful music for close to five decades. After Rufus’ long run of hits, Chaka Khan broke out on her own in 1978 with Ashford & Simpson’s “I’m Every Woman,” a successful mix of rock and disco. She continued to master the rhythms of every era from rock to funk to hip-hop. Throughout her career, Khan has also showcased her jazz roots on albums like Echoes of an Era (1982) and ClassiKhan (2004). Her landmark solo album, 1984’s I Feel for You, was a creative and exciting mix of funk, synth dance rhythms, and hip-hop on Prince’s title track and the stunning ballad “Through the Fire.” She continues to be one of the most prolific and eclectic singers around, covering songbook standards and soul classics to equal acclaim, and earning the 2008 Grammy for best R&B album with Funk This, her tenth Grammy win. Khan’s most recent album, Hello Happiness, was released in 2019.   


Inspired by pioneering female artists like Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell, Khan remains one of the mightiest and most influential voices in music. It is impossible to imagine today’s streetwise but sensual hip-hop-soul divas without Khan; her influence allowed Mary J. Blige, an ardent fan, to forge the template, paving the way for other formidable women from Erykah Badu to Janelle Monáe, as well as versatile, powerhouse vocalists like Sam Smith. The recordings of Chaka Khan have endured for decades and continue to inspire fellow artists and fans alike.  

Nominee: Chaka Khan

SoundBites: Chaka Khan

SoundBites: Chaka Khan

#RockHall2021 Definitive Chaka Khan

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