She’s Host Cathy Hughes’ Very Special Guest On A New Episode Of ‘TV One On One’ Sunday At 10pm
TV One on One host Cathy Hughes sits down with music icon and ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan for a revealing interview. During the sistah to sistah session, Khan talks to Hughes about her recent “comeback” after several years out of the spotlight, her fascinating life and an enduring career. As she tells Hughes, during the period she was out of the public eye, there were some tough times. But it had unforeseen, positive results. “I’ve had a couple of life-altering experiences in my absence, but I come back to you new and improved!”
And she certainly has come back, when you consider Khan won two Grammy awards this year for Best R&B Performance (with Mary Blige) for “Disrespectful” from the album “Funk This,” and Best R&B Album “Funk This” and starred on Broadway as Sofia in The Color Purple. With these new triumphs, Khan renews a pattern of success that began at the age of 11 on the South Side of Chicago where she formed her first singing group, the Crystalettes.
Born Yvette Marie Stevens in Great Lakes, Illinois, Khan became “Chaka” during a naming ceremony in high school when a Yoruba priest christened her Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. As she explains to Cathy Hughes: “Chaka means fighter. It’s a derivation of Tchaka Zulu, or Warrior. Adunne means ‘one who many love to touch,’ and Aduffe, ‘one who many compete to touch.’ Yemoja is ‘woman of waters,’ Hodari means ‘woman of nature,’ and Karifi, is strength. And then the ‘Khan…!’” (The name Khan comes from her early marriage to bass guitarist Hassan Khan.)
Several years and a few pop groups after the Crystalettes, Khan debuted her first album “Rufus” with her new band by the same name. Khan and Rufus would go on to become one of the most successful funk groups of the 1970s and 80s with pop and R&B hits including “Tell Me Something Good,” “Masterjam,” “Sweet Thing” and “Once You Get Started.” Rufus captured half a dozen gold and platinum albums before Khan broke with them in a very public split, and went solo in 1978 with her album “Chaka,” which produced one of her most successful hits, “I’m Every Woman.”
Not content to sing just funk, Khan also recorded scat and jazz-influenced albums, but had her greatest success with more mainstream sounds. In 1984, for her sixth solo album, Khan recorded an older Prince song called “I Feel for You,” which became a huge success, making Billboard’s Top Five. Most people remember it for rap artist Grandmaster Melle Mel’s contribution consisting of his distinctive “Cha-ka-Khan” rap. The album proved a huge success, winning Khan her third Grammy.
Other chart-toppers and awards followed, but as her pop standing in the US declined, Khan moved her family — daughter Milini and son Damien — to London for several years before returning to the States and settling in Los Angeles. It was there that teenage Damien shot and killed a friend with an assault rifle during a 2004 argument. He was eventually acquitted after a 2006 trial.
Khan tells Hughes that the ordeal certainly took its toll on the family, but it also brought her a kind of enlightenment. “I’ve grown. I am in present time [now] at all times. And not afraid. More fearless because I am trusting in my higher powers. I still get my usual butterflies, but I think what we’re referring to here is just a fear of feeling, a fear of feeling any pain; a fear of experiencing anything unpleasant. Fear of life. I didn’t want to experience it, and so I hibernated and medicated. “
She continues, “I got shaken out of that with the ordeal with my son. But I took that as an opportunity…I was being spoken to in a profound way. It was definitely a lesson – a life lesson and a message. I had to be there. I had to sit up and show up [at the trial] every morning. But it’s not just that. I had to carry the Holy Spirit with me everywhere I went and stay in a constant state of prayer and surrender to God. That’s when I really learned what it means when people so flippantly say, ‘Give it to God.’”
In addition to her positive new outlook on life and her newly flourishing career, Khan is also taking joy from the Chaka Khan Foundation which she created to provide help and education to target domestic violence, substance abuse and autism. “This is why I’m here. This is the gift. This is one of the main reasons I’m on this planet — to serve and assist. My heart’s virtue is to empower the innocent. That’s what I’m about. That’s why God put me here, gave me this wide circle of influence as a singer – so I can give this message.”
In the last segments of the show, Ms. Khan is joined by a surprise guest, her friend R&B vocalist Betty Wright, and the two talk about the early days of their careers.