By Tribune Staff
NASHVILLE, TN — Chaka Khan, one of America’s premier and most versatile vocalists, will be appearing Sunday at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Khan has excelled in R&B, funk, soul and jazz circles, won numerous awards, and been extremely successful as both the cornerstone of a group and a solo vocalist.
Growing up in Chicago, as a youthful vocalist Khan was initially asked to replace R&B legend Baby Huey in the group Baby Huey & The Babysitters after Huey’s death in 1970. After that group disbanded, two members from a new group named Rufus saw her and asked Khan to join their band. After Rufus signed with ABC Records in 1973 and issued their self-titled debut LP things began to change for her in a big way. Stevie Wonder collaborated with them on the single “Tell Me Something Good.” It was their breakthrough hit and earned them their first Grammy. From 1974 to 1979, Rufus released six platinum-selling albums and Khan became their star attraction.
By 1978, she’d become too big a star to remain within a group environment. Her solo debut LP included the huge hit “I’m Every Woman”, written by the duo of Ashford & Simpson. She was also featured on Quincy Jones’s 1978 hit “Stuff Like That”, which also featured Ashford & Simpson as co-writers, along with Jones and several others.
Since that time, Chaka Khan has emerged as a huge star. She’s worked with a host of musical greats, among them Ry Cooder, the Blues Brothers, Rick Wakeman, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Winwood, Jam and Lewis, and others. She’s even done such jazz-flavored releases as “Echoes of An Era.” Khan reunited with Rufus for some final projects, but otherwise continued to be enormously popular and influential as a lead vocalist.
Overall, she’s had 22 LPs that have included 10 number one songs, along with seven gold singles, and 10 gold and platinum albums. She’s won 10 Grammys, and stayed even busier as a philanthropist, entrepreneur and activists. Still a formidable performer after multiple decades, Chaka Khan remains a revered and treasured cultural institution.
Chaka Khan, Sunday at Schmerhorn Symphony Center, 1 Symphony Place, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available.