Chaka Khan Talks New Wig Line and Why She Transitioned to Wearing Hair Extensions
Chaka Khan is the reigning “Queen of Funk” and her voice is known the world over—but so is her iconic look.
“They used to call me ‘Lips, hips and hair,’ says the music legend, recalling how radio hosts would introduce her in the early days of her nearly five decades-long career. Along with her powerful voice, her famously big hair earned its own place in the spotlight. As she says, “That’s part of my persona.”
`Now at 66, the star tells PEOPLE she is finally ready to reveal her hair secrets to her legion of fans. “I figured at this time in my life, why not,” says Khan. “There are little tricks of the trade. I think it’s time to share now.”
On Tuesday the “Through the Fire” and “I’m Every Woman” singer released her first ever hair collection, Chaka by Indique. Partnering with Indique Hair along with her longtime stylist George R. Fuller, she commissioned two wig styles—”IKhanic Curl” and “IKhanic Straight”—both inspired by her signature mane.
Bold and beautiful hair is in her DNA. “I came from Chicago. We were very Afro-centric. I think that was the beginning I think for me just doing big hair. I refused to go to the hairdressers and get my hair done. I said ‘No’, I’ll just be what I am.”
But as the years and her busy career went on, Khan says Fuller is the one who convinced her to try something new. “It used to take hours to do her hair, so I would say to her, ‘Why don’t you just let me get the hair pieces,” says Fuller. “Her [natural] hair is thick. She has a lot of hair.”
Experimenting with hair extensions in the late ’90s, “At first she was paranoid about it,” recalls Fuller. “It took me to 2002, 2003 before she started getting comfortable with it. But it frees up a lot of your time.”
As for the one-time stigma around wigs and hair extensions, Fuller says “Long gone are those days. That’s the beauty of hair, it’s an accessory.” Now he says, “Nobody’s trippin’!”
Khan couldn’t agree more: “Let me have my weave, my prized pieces baby!” With her new Indique hair line she hopes to help other women find a look that works. “Sometimes I see women and their hair pieces just aren’t right. I said, ‘Let’s do this for women everywhere.'”
“Chaka’s always been my hair icon,” says Ericka Dotson, Indique’s co-founder and Creative Director who was eager for the partnership. “Anytime a woman steps out with big hair, as black women we’d say ‘Okay, Chaka!’ I’m thrilled to offer that experience to everyone.”
For Khan herself, it’s all about simplicity. “It’s comfort first and feeling secure,” she says of her personal beauty philosophy. She’s gearing up to release new music and excited to soon perform her hits with the Philharmonic Orchestra. “Feeling natural,” she says, “and looking as natural as possible, that’s the most important thing.”