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Chaka! Through the Fire Hardcover – October 10, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (October 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579548261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579548261
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 performances-is a link between Franklin's soul music and Kim's hip-hop. To celebrate her 50th birthday, Khan has written a breezy and entertaining autobiography whose structure seems to be modeled on Tina Turner's I, Tina: a young singer's almost chance selection to front an all-male band, years of bad romantic relationships and a final declaration of creative and personal independence. The trajectory of Khan's highly successful career, as she describes it, is as out of control as her feathers and sequins and the wacky funk that marked her early hits with the band Rufus, such as "Tell Me Something Good." To her credit she lets it all hang out, admitting, "About the only thing I'm certain of is that my life has been a series of `happenings' that have made me who I am." She candidly details her drinking, drugging, overspending and many marriages and affairs ("Chaka `United Nations' Khan. That's what some friends called me when it came to me and men"). 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Khan, winner of 18 Grammy Awards, recently turned 50 and now looks back on a musical career plagued by the excesses of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. She grew up in Chicago and was attracted to the entertainment scene and the radical politics of the Black Panthers. Strong-willed, Khan married early to gain independence from her mother and the freedom to pursue a career with Ask Rufus, the band that would give her her first real break. She went on to a successful solo career, a second failed marriage, several failed relationships, and virtual abandonment of her children to her mother. To escape the reality and stresses of her life, Kahn turned to alcohol and drugs. But intervention by her family sent Khan into recovery and reflection on a legendary career. Khan, whose music style has spanned rock, R & B, and jazz, recalls working with artists including Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Miles Davis. She brings the verve and vibrancy for which she is known to this memoir of her career. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

I will ship internationally.
I don't know if she was limited to a certain number of pages, by deadlines, or simply couldn't recall those times through the haze of substance abuse.
I feel that Chaka is so honest and forthright in this book that it is a biography that many will enjoy.
Dorrie Wheeler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bagley on November 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's been thirty years since Chaka Khan was introduced to the music world through the band Rufus. While Khan's tenure with Rufus and subsequent solo career have made her one of the most influential and celebrated artists in popular music (the accolades include seven Grammies), her private life has not been well documented. Thus, this long rumored-to-be-in-the- making autobiography has been highly anticipated by Khan's throng of admirers. If only she had been able to fully recount her incredible journey.
In the opening chapters of Chaka! Through The Fire, Khan is quite forthcoming in discussing her humble beginnings in Chicago's Hyde Park. By the age of ten, she had endured her parents' turbulent marriage and divorce, followed by her father's desertion (leaving Khan and her younger siblings to be raised by her mother, aunt, and grandmother). During adolescence, she entered - and won - many talent contests as a member of the Crystalettes, performed with the Shades Of Black vocal group, and even found time to join the Black Panther Party. Then a teenage pregnancy threatened to stifle her musical dreams, just as Khan's own unplanned birth had halted her mother's artistic aspirations.
Fortunately, Khan continued to pursue a career in music, and the book perks up when she becomes the lead singer of the inter-racial band Ask Rufus in 1972. Khan takes us through the band's relocation from Chicago to Los Angeles, the shortening of their name to Rufus, their failed first album, and onto their breakthrough collaboration with Stevie Wonder on the hit "Tell Me Something Good" (of which Wonder failed to give the naive Khan a deserved co-writing credit).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By jeffrey thomas on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This memoir of Chaka Khan's life is a must-read. This brilliant piece of work titles each chapter with the title of one of Ms. Khan's songs. Excerpts of the lyrics in the book serve as a kind of icing on what's going on in each chapter. It's a very intelligent book, touching on world/social events while at the same time applying that era to her personal ups and downs. Chaka is very frank in the book. She's basically "keeping it real". It's sheer honesty, sometimes brutal, sometimes shocking, sometimes inspiring. Chaka leaves no rock unturned. And yes, the drug use is in the book. I felt privileged to have this look into this legend's exciting life and I'm a better, more knowledgable person because of it. It's about hope, despite the circumstances. Get it, you won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tadaia on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I truly enjoyed this memoir written by Chaka Khan and Tonya Bolden and would recommend it to any Chaka Khan fan or anyone curious as to how this siren of song came to be and lived.

I've been a Chaka fan since childhood. She is my favorite all-time vocalist. My father bought Rufus' first album but I didn't pay much attention until the second, "Rags to Rufus". Chaka's raw primal energy on the microphone had me hooked from the first guitar riff of "You Got the Love" and "Tell Me Something Good". The third album, "Rufusized", sealed my fate as a lifelong Rufus and Chaka Khan fan. I would sit, listen and ogle over the album covers for hours on end. In my naive young mind, Chaka Khan was the epitome of womanhood. I wanted to be her. All at once this woman was incredibly talented, beautiful, vivacious, tender... exuding tremendous confidence, power and an animal-like sensuality. I would shake my braids loose, dress up in my summer halter and bell-bottoms and dance about the family room doing that side-to-side-jerk-shimmy thing that was her trademark. The band's appearances on shows like Bandstand and Soul Train were moments that I lived for. My father even bought my first guitar to help appease my obsession. It was only much later that I discovered all that glitters is not gold... in regard to my idol and otherwise. My first live Chaka experience was at a mid-80's concert in the Chicago area. She was good... but clearly trashed and suffering. It broke my heart. My adulation remains however, and I'd always yearned to know her story.

The thing that I enjoyed most about the book is the conveyance of her personality through the words. Her candid expression and frankness are qualities that I deeply appreciate.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. E Williams on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Though the book name is Chaka! "Through the Fire", Ms. Khan shows that she can go through the fire, shed the traces of her former selves and spread her wings and soar like the Hot Butterfly that she is. As stated by previous reviewers this is a very honest and heartfelt review of the ups and downs, and turn arounds of a artists who is royalty in the world of music. Ms. Khan traces her interesting, but turbulent childhood and teens years as a black panther, through her initial rise to fame with Funk Legends Rufus, and her forray into a successful solo career. Behind the glitz and glamour Chaka shares in details her many addictions to drugs and the many insecure men she has had in her life. Throughout all of this Chaka was able to eventually find herself, self love and innerpeace. This book is very inspiring and Chaka's narrative reads like a movie script. You feel like she's sitting in the roon with you as you read it. I say this is a Must Have, and you'll walk away very inspired. As the old cliche's go Chaka proves that she is "A woman, a Backbone, and it's all in her".
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