Chaka Khan wasn’t born with the name Chaka Khan.
The Grammy-winning singer, born in Chicago in 1953, was originally named Yvette Marie Stevens.
During her teens, Yvette “met a Yoruba priest who gave her a new name…based on her orishas, or guiding spirits.” Her new names, in order, were Chaka, Adunne, Aduffe, Yemoja, Hodarhi, and Karifi.
A few years later, she married for the first time and took her husband’s surname, Khan.
Hence, the stage name Chaka Khan.
Chaka joined the funk band Rufus in 1972.
In 1975, they released their fourth studio album, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, which included the popular single “Sweet Thing.”
That year and the next, the baby name Chakakhan appeared on the SSA’s baby name list:
- 1977: unlisted
- 1976: 16 baby girls named Chakakhan
- 1975: 21 baby girls named Chakakhan [debut]
- 1974: unlisted
Very likely these parents wrote the name with a space — “Chaka Khan” — but the SSA ignores spaces in first names.
The baby name Chaka also became more popular, but only for baby girls (many of whom were probably given Khan as a middle name):
- 1977: 87 baby girls, 16 baby boys named Chaka
- 1976: 147 baby girls, 20 baby boys named Chaka
- 1975: 120 baby girls, 18 baby boys named Chaka
- 1974: 15 baby girls, 18 baby boys named Chaka
It has since dropped off the list entirely for both genders.
Chaka Khan eventually left Rufus and began a solo career, and in 2011 she was given the 2,440th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Source: Ollison, Rashod D. “Through the Fire.” Sun [Baltimore] 28 Oct. 2003: 1E.