When Chaka Khan sang the words “I’ll do it naturally” in her 1978 hit song, “I’m Every Woman,” the Queen of Funk may have been singing about more than love. For decades Khan has captivated audiences with her raw talent, pure beauty and curly, textured hair. “I’m often told women refer to any style with big hair as the Chaka Khan,” the singer and songwriter notes.
“I’ve realized over the years that my hair is as iconic as my artistry.” Indeed, in the years spanning her musical debut with Rufus, the Chicago funk band responsible for such chart-toppers as “Tell Me Something Good” and “Sweet Thing,” and her solo career as a Grammy Award–winning artist, Khan’s treasured tresses have taken on various shapes and colors.
On the cover of her new studio album, Hello Happiness, the vocalist dons riveting red waves. The vibrant hair color is one of Khan’s signature hues, though she’s just as likely to float onstage in bouncy brown curls. But no matter the color, the volume is always awe-inspiring. Khan has only straightened her tresses once. “I’ve always loved my big and beautiful hair,” she says. “My former stylist [and now manager] George [Fuller] tried to get me to wear my hair straight one time. I tried it, hated it and that was the end of that.”
As an entertainer in the ever-changing music industry, where image is everything, the artist says she has never felt pressure to conform to a certain type of beauty. Throughout her career Khan’s high-voltage hair has been a source of her power. “My crown is a part of my confidence,” she says. “I don’t worry about beauty standards or what anyone else thinks; I like what I like, and it seems to be working pretty well for me.” So much so that the singer has debuted a burgeoning collection influenced by her colossal curls.
I’ve been blessed with an amazing career, and at 66 years old, I wanted to become an entrepreneur to show people it’s never too late to start a new endeavor.“
Earlier this year Khan partnered with Indique Hair, a premier provider of virgin hair extensions, and her manager to create special wigs highlighting her signature textured looks. The collection includes the IKhanic Straight Wig, inspired by her beautiful blow- outs, and the IKhanic Curl Wig, modeled after her coveted coils. “A lot of people have asked me over the years about my hair,” she explains. “They ask about the cut, color and texture, so I thought, Why not just give them a piece of me?”
In a verse on her first solo hit single, the artist sings, “It’s all in me.” Now we know that includes an entrepreneurial spirit. “At 66 years old, I wanted to become an entrepreneur to show people it’s never too late to start a new endeavor,” she says. “Whatever makes me happy, and whatever makes me feel good, is what I should be doing.” Because when she’s in a space of total creativity, the singer says, that’s when she feels the most beautiful.