The best in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music

Ain’t Nobody … like Chaka Khan

This story originally appeared in Deadly Vibe Magazine Issue #3 April, 1997

We have just opened The Vault – all the back stories from old editions – dating back to the 1990s. To know where we are going, it's important to understand where we have been. And that story you can follow in the Deadly Vibe Vault!

Chaka Khan is a total, one hundred percent, undisputed legend. With a voice that can set you quaking in your boots, she is definitely one of the world’s greatest singers.

She was born Yvette Stevens and grew up on the south side of Chicago – she was renamed Chaka, which means ‘fire’, by an African shaman (a mystical medicine man). And when you hear her singing, it is easy to understand why – she is hotter than hot!!

By the age of 18 Chaka had moved to Los Angeles, where she still lives, and was fronting a bunch of musicians who called themselves ‘Rufus’. During the seventies, Rufus were one of the most popular and influential groups around.

In just five years, they notched 11 chart albums and 9 Top 40 hits in the US.

But it wasn’t until Chaka set out on her own that she achieved super-stardom. Her solo debut album, released in 1978 included the smash hit, ‘I’m Every Woman’ (recently covered by Whitney Houston).

In 1983, she teamed up with her old band to record a live album, Rufus and Chaka Khan Live: Stompin’ at the Savoy, which yielded the much-covered track ‘Ain’t Nobody’.

Her next big hit was ‘I Feel  For You’, written by Prince and featuring Stevie Wonder and rapper Melle Mel, a couple of unknowns (not!) in guest roles.

These days, Chaka hanging out in LA. She’s got her own radio show and she’s producing other musicians.

Epiphany: The best of Chaka Khan, her latest album, which features everyone’s favourite Chaka songs, plus five new tracks, has bought her back into the spotlight. Chaka recently visited Australia to play at Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and to promote the album.

Deadly Vibe reporter Leah Purcell managed to catch up with Chaka to have a chat about her music and career. Leah also asked her what advise she would offer young people in terms of drugs and alcohol.

“I’d tell them to get away from that stuff. I’ve been through that whole thing as a youngster as well, and I know that youngsters are inquisitive and sometimes the best lessons are learned by experiencing the thing. But if you have experienced it and it hasn’t been good for you then that should tell you that you should cool out I just think that drugs and alcohol have often been tools that have been used by certain governments to keep certain people under their thumb. So I would say do your best to stay away from that, there are other ways to have fun without becoming a slave to that crap.”

Fighting words Chaka!!

Make sure you tune into Deadly Sounds for Leah’s full interview with Chaka. And look out for Chaka when she returns to Australia for a full tour later this year.


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