Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953 into an artistic, bohemian household in Chicago, Illinois. She was the eldest of five children to Charles Stevens and Sandra Coleman, and has described her father Charles as a beatnik and her mother as 'able to do anything'. 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 Stevens later became a successful musician in her own right under the name Taka Boom. Her only brother, Mark Stevens, who formed the funk group Aurra, also became a successful musician. She has two other sisters, Zaheva Stevens and Tammy McCrary, who is her current manager.
Chaka Khan was raised as a Catholic. She attributed her love of music to her grandmother, who introduced her to jazz music as a child. Khan became a fan of Rhythm and Blues music as a pre-teen and at eleven formed her first all-female singing group the Crystalettes, which also included her sister Taka. In the late 1960s, Khan attended several civil rights rallies with her father's second wife, Connie, a strong supporter of the movement, and later joined the Black Panther Party after befriending fellow member, activist and Chicago native Fred Hampton in 1967. While a member, she was given a name change to Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi by an African shaman. In 1969, she left the Panthers, dropped out of high school, having attended Calumet High School and Kenwood High School (now Kenwood Academy), and began to perform in small groups around the Chicago area, first performing with Cash McCall's group Lyfe, which included her then boyfriend Hassan Khan, whom she would later marry.
Khan was asked to replace the late Baby Huey of Baby Huey & the Babysitters after Huey's untimely death, in 1970. The group disbanded a year later. While performing in local bands in 1972, Khan was spotted by two members of a new group called Rufus and soon won her position in the group, replacing rock and roll singer Paulette McWilliams. The group later signed with ABC Records in 1973. Prior to Khan signing with the label, she married her on-and-off boyfriend Hassan Khan, changing her stage name to Chaka Khan. - read full bio at wikipedia.com
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