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Funk expert: Chaka Khan deserves Rock Hall induction

Tue, 05/04/2021

LAWRENCE – One of the leading academic experts on funk music says finalist Chaka Khan should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame when the 2021 class of inductees is announced.

Tony BoldenTony Bolden is a University of Kansas associate professor of African & African-American studies and the author of “Groove Theory: The Blues Foundations of Funk” (University Press of Mississippi, 2020). He is available for interviews about singer Chaka Khan’s Rock Hall nomination or any funk music topic. 

“It is my firm belief that Khan deserves her rightful place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” Bolden said recently.

“Sultry, sensual, sui generis — the ultimate songbird. These are just a few attributes that describe the incredible Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. Her stratospheric sound and breathtaking performances exemplify the distinctive flair of her inimitable aesthetic as well as her indomitable, free-spirited sensibility. 

“Born Yvette Marie Stevens in Great Lakes, Illinois, in 1953, Khan developed her chops in nondescript spaces in Chicago, including talent shows where she squared off against Minnie Riperton, among others. Khan and her sister, Taka Boom (aka Yvonne Stevens), often faced stiff competition from the Hutchinson Sunbeams, a gospel group of sisters who formed the gospel group that rose to fame as the Emotions.

“But that’s just a fraction of the story. As a youth, Khan was inspired by Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, the young activist who epitomized selfless integrity and political commitment in the late 1960s. Thus, she worked as a volunteer for the Chicago chapter of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. And though she soon became disillusioned by the organization, her experience reflected her rebellious spirit and commitment to integrity that became synonymous with her name: Chaka Khan.”

To interview Bolden, contact Rick Hellman, KU News Service public affairs officer, at rick_hellman@ku.edu or 913-620-8786.



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