Cover Story: Chaka Khan On Her Love/Hate Relationship With Hair & Her New Hair Collection

Chaka Khan
Photo Credit: Allen Cooley // Artwork: Hannah Aryee

Chaka Khan has always been legendary. With a career spanning across five decades, her name alone invokes “remember when” memories of the first time we heard her voice or were blessed by her larger-than-life presence. For me, it was an old single of “Ain’t Nobody” I found in my deejay father’s archives, along with remakes of “Sweet Thing” and “I’m Every Woman” that led to her originals. The “Queen of Funk” pop/soul diva is still bringing the vocal heat with Hello Happiness, her first album in 12 years. 

Chaka’s hair journey has been just as big, loud and proud. Her lioness mane of textured, kinky, coily tresses personified funk and outlasted ’70s disco, ’80s blowout bangs, and ’90s asymmetrical cuts. “That’s where I come from—the school of big hair,” she says. And, we (or our sisters, mamas or aunties) all wanted some version of it. 

So, of course, it came as a surprise when Chaka, herself, says, “I’ve never been in love with my hair.” Near sacrilege to my ears, she reveals the opportunity to achieve hair perfection is what actually attracted her to launch her own hair line. 

Wait, what? The natural hair icon went on to explain that extensions helped her satisfy her own hair obsessions throughout her career. 

Chaka Khan
Photo Credit: Allen Cooley

“I’ve been on a very long and wide journey of experimentation—with color, especially,” she shares. “I have had my journey and I just want to [help] some women cut some corners and achieve a sense of style and happiness without going through much of the crap I went through.” 

From afros and blow-outs to myriad shades of red, Chaka’s hair has definitely gone through a lot. She recently revealed she even used clothing dye to get the perfect red. “Not being able to find the right colors—that’s been a real struggle for me.” She has also incorporated wigs and clip-ins to make her big hair even bigger.

And now we can rock Chaka’s signature look via the new collection, Chaka by Indique, created in partnership with Indique and her longtime stylist George Fuller. They launched this spring with two full wig options: iKhanic Curl, an 18″ lace closure unit using 10.5 oz of Indique’s Bounce kinky coily hair and iKhanic Straight, a textured blowout option. 

Later this summer, she will expand the line with clip-in extensions for fans who just want to add length and volume to their own tresses. “It’s about creating systems and styles that women can use to have whatever look they want. With, of course, the focus being on big hair.”

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About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is digital media director and online editor for Hype Hair. she is also founder of Sadiaa Black Beauty guide, the number one beauty directory for women of color.