Chaka! Through the Fire by Chaka Khan

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Rolling Stone compared it to melted caramel, and Miles Davis compared it to his horn.

Chaka Khan's scorchingly soulful voice first dazzled most of us back in 1974 with Rufus and "Tell Me Something Good," and most recently in her Grammy Award-winning performance in Standing in the Shadows of Motown, singing "What's Going On?" with the Funk Brothers. Over the years, she's had twelve number-one hits and nine number-one albums. Over one hundred appearances on the Billboard charts. Nineteen Grammy nominations and eight Grammy wins. Her achievements in the music industry are legendary, and like her twenty albums, they're well-known to the public.

But the private side of Chaka, the story of what fame and fortune have cost her-- and taught her-- hasn't been told before. In Chaka! Through the Fire, Chaka Khan gives us the whole story of the woman behind the diva and reveals her high and low points. A happy early childhood in a loving, creative home was shattered by escalating fights between her parents. When they finally split, Chaka's father disappeared without even a goodbye, leaving Chaka bewildered, bereft, and blaming her mother. She reconnected with her dad in her teens, finding that he was as liberal and permissive a parent as her mother was strict. Chaka started experimenting with drugs and joined the Black Panthers. Soon after, she fronted for a band called Rufus.

They hit it big with "Tell Me Something Good," and Chaka's stardom was launched. But life on the road was grueling, and as the years went by, the pressures grew. Chaka turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of failed relationships, the guilt of leaving her kids to be raised by Grandma, the resentment she felt about the exhausting demands of her career. It wasn't until things got very bad that she started to see the patterns. All the things she had suffered through in her childhood and swore never to do to her kids-- well, she was doing them.

That's when she began the work of turning it all around. These days, she's still a musical powerhouse, but she's making sure there's time for family, too. She's drug-free. She's started her own record label and has also started a foundation to help women and children in need. Remarkably, Chaka has remained a true wild child despite all the changes: a fiercely independent woman who never compromised her spirit.

About Chaka Khan

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Chaka Khan is one of the foremost vocalists of our time and has won recognition in many music genres. She has received countless awards and has worked with some of music's biggest talents, including Miles Davis, Prince, and Dizzy Gillespie. She currently resides in London and Los Angeles. Tonya Bolden is a magna cum laude baccalaureate of Princeton University. In addition to the many books she has authored, she has also collaborated on Eartha Kitt's Rejuvenate! and contributed text to Diana Ross's Diana Ross: Going Back.
Published October 10, 2003 by Rodale Books. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chaka! Through the Fire

Publishers Weekly

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Young enough to be Aretha Franklin's daughter and old enough to be Lil' Kim's mom, Chaka Khan—with her dynamic 1970s funk, her powerful vocals and her outrageous stage performance

Jul 07 2003 | Read Full Review of Chaka! Through the Fire

Publishers Weekly

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These details may be of interest only to Khan and Rufus fans, but serious music readers will welcome Khan's first few chapters, which give a remarkably insightful view of the connections between political and music scenes in Khan's hometown, Chicago during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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