CLEVELAND — Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is wrapping Women’s History Month with a special celebration, honoring some major milestones for one of music’s longtime leading ladies.
What You Need To Know
- Music legend Chaka Khan is celebrating her 70th birthday and 50th anniversary in the music industry
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honored Khan’s career with a special event Wednesday and by displaying items from her career in the Legends of Rock exhibit
- The funk/R&B powerhouse first gained fame as a member of Rufus in the 70s, then set out on a successful solo career earning 10 Grammy Awards and other titles
With about two dozen albums, 10 Grammys and numerous other awards and honors earned during a career spanning half a century, it’s safe to say Chaka Khan is a music industry icon.
“I’m just happy being here,” she said. “I’m still here.”
The powerhouse vocalist celebrated her 70th birthday and 50th anniversary in the music industry at the Rock Hall with a special sold-out event Wednesday. She said a tour of the museum’s archive room gave her a new perspective.
“Gives me a historical sort of view of people who came before me,” Khan said. “I was really moved by that.”
Now, she’s sharing some of her own history by displaying some mementos from her own musical journey.
“I think they did a great job. They did a wonderful job,” she said. “I was really impressed. I didn’t expect such a big deal. It is a big deal.”
Khan first hit the charts in the 1970s with the group Rufus, then launched a successful solo career, not realizing she’d have such staying power.
“To be honest, I never really thought about it at all,” she said.
Khan’s talent and commanding stage presence attracted longtime fans Antonia Philpot and Sergio Eddie to her songs.
“My parents got me started listening to her music, and then over time I just started, you know, adding and listening to it a little bit more,” Eddie said. “It’s just really good music.
They enjoyed the chance to see pieces from her past, including clothing she wore during tours, a fan she used onstage while performing with Prince and other mementos in person at the exhibit, which opened Wednesday.
“It’s just very inspiring to see women like her who really fight against everything that was thrown her way and came out on top,” Philpot said. “And made history and became a legend.”
“Legend” is not how Khan thinks of herself.
“No, no I don’t,” she said. “I think of myself as ‘Nana.’”
But she’s proud to be a woman making a name for herself in a challenging business.
“It took some courageous women, and it still does,” Khan said.
The artist whose first solo hit was the song, “I’m Every Woman,” said Women’s History Month is important.
“I think it’s a great milestone that should be acknowledged,” Khan said. “In a bigger way.”
She wants to recognize the passion and dedication women need to succeed.
“I know how tough it is,” she said. “I think it’s really tough to have a family and you almost have to choose one or the other. So, hat’s off. Congratulations, other women.”
But, how does Khan want to be remembered?
“She was a good old girl,” she said.
Artifacts from Khan’s career will be on display inside the Legends of Rock exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame indefinitely, with no current timeline for removing the display.
Khan and Rufus both received Rock Hall nominations in the past, but neither is officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.