Chaka was born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago, Illinois, she was raised on the South side and at the age of 11 she formed her first group called the Crystalettes. While Chaka was still in high school, she joined the Afro-Arts Theater, a group which toured with Mowtown great Mary Wells. A few years later she adopted the African name Chaka Khan while working on the Black Panthers' Free Breakfast for Children. After deciding to quit high school in 1969, Khan joined the group Lyfe, soon exiting to join another dance band called The Baby-sitters. Neither group was on a fast track to success, but Chaka's fortune would soon change when she teamed up with ex-American Breed member Kevin Murphy and André Fisher to form the group Rufus.
Rufus debuted in 1973 with a self-titled album on the ABC label, and was among the preeminent funk groups of the decade, they were distinguished mainly by Chaka's dynamic vocals. With Stevie Wonder's help, Rufus was able to break into the Pop and R&B charts in 1974 with "Tell Me Something Good." Rufus earned a half dozen gold and platinum albums before she went solo in 1978.
Khan recorded the album "Chaka" in 1978, it contained her highly orchestrated Arif Mardin-produced disco hit "I'm Every Woman." The album "Chaka" proved to be a significant hit, however Chaka's success was tempered by her very public rivalry with the remaining Rufus members, to whom she was still contractually bound for two more LP's.
In 1982 Chaka recorded "Echoes of an Era," which was a collection of jazz standards. The album featured Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, and Lenny White. 1983 found Chaka returning to Rufus to record her last contractually obligated album "Stompin' at the Savoy: Live." The double album contained live versions of Rufus classics, Khan's solo hits, and a handful of additional newly recorded tracks. One of the newly recorded tracks was the smash hit "Ain't Nobody," which would return Chaka to the top of the R&B and Pop charts.
Khan's Pop career was on shaky ground when she released 1984s "I Feel for You." The Grammy-winning hip hop-based "I Feel for You" was a remake of a fairly obscure Prince track, it featured a harmonica cameo appearance by Stevie Wonder and a rap by Melle Mel. The song launched her career back into full gear. The popular ballad "Through the Fire" produced by David Foster would also reach the R&B top ten, setting a record for spending the most consecutive weeks on the Billboard R&B chart.
While subsequent LPs like 1986s "Destiny" and 1988s "C. K. " kept Khan riding high on the R&B charts, her standing in Pop's mainstream again began to wane, and at the end of the 80s she relocated to Europe.
In 1990 she was awarded another Grammy for "I'll Be Good to You," a duet with Ray Charles. Chaka Khan released "The Woman I Am," in 1992 which received a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance. The albums hit single "Love You All My Lifetime" was penned by German hit songwriting duo Irmgard Klarmann and Felix Weber and was produced by David Gamson.
Her Prince-produced album, "Come 2 My House" was released in 1998. "ClassiKhan," a collection of Pop and Jazz standards was released in 2004. Chaka not only released an album in 2004, she also received an honorary doctorate degree from Berkley College of Music.
She is at work on a new album and making guest appearances at special events.