Intimate Portrait

Season 10 Episode 1

Chaka Khan

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Aired Monday 7:00 PM Jun 09, 2003 on Lifetime
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Chaka Khan
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Chaka Khan: Shining Star Before she became Chaka Khan, she was Evette Stevens. Born in Illinois in 1953, she grew up in a household filled with music. When the Black Power movement gained steam in the 1960s, the then 13-year-old singer joined a band called Shades of Black. During this time, a shaman christened her Chaka after the great warrior Chaka Zulu. By age 16, she had left school, joined the Black Panthers and moved to a commune. She also teamed up with Rufus, an up-and-coming R&B band. Thanks to her deep, powerful voice, the group scored a record deal. In June 1970, the singer married Chicago musician Hassan Khan, with whom she had a daughter, Milini. However, the marriage hit rock bottom in 1973. Musically, Chaka Khan was collecting successes. During the recording of Rufus' second album, her idol, Stevie Wonder, showed up at the studio with a song for her. "Tell Me Something Good" became the band's first hit. In 1974, Rufus earned its first Grammy Award. But life on tour was hard and lonely, and Chaka Khan turned to drugs to cope. In 1974, she married Richard Holland, a neighbor who saved her from a drug overdose that nearly killed her. In 1978, she decided to go solo and released her first solo album, featuring the smash hit "I'm Every Woman." After giving birth to her son, Damien, in 1979, Chaka Khan split from her second husband. In 1984, Chaka Khan was at the top of her game with the catchy hit "I Feel for You." Unfortunately, in 1988, battles with her record company stalled her career, and the star once again turned to drugs. She finally moved to London to get her life together, and after two decades of narcotics use, she kicked her habit once and for all. Life was looking up: She won her sixth Grammy in 1990, and a few years later she launched her own record label, Earth Song Entertainment. After undergoing vocal-cord surgery with her voice intact, the singer decided it was time to give something back. In 1999, she launched the Chaka Khan Foundation to help battered women and children. Now 50 and a grandmother, Chaka has plenty of experience to share with her loved ones and the world.moreless

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