Chaka Khan says she wouldn’t be alive right now without Joni Mitchell.

The Queen of Funk, whose real name is Yvette Marie Stevens, graced the cover of Hits Magazine‘s 2023 Black History Month issue. For the cover story, she opened up about all the artists and influences who helped her along her journey. She had a lot of gratitude for Joni Mitchell, in particular, who she credited with “saving” her life.

“Girl, let me tell you—she has saved my life on more than one occasion. I get it when somebody says the artist becomes this soundtrack to somebody else’s life because she definitely was the one to mine,” Khan began.

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“I’d be on a tour bus after a show and frustrated as hell, because Rufus and I, offstage, had a rather turbulent relationship,” she recalled. “They treated me like their little sister that they had to look after. I couldn’t have company; nobody could come to my hotel room after the show, ever. They would do checks, walkthroughs, all kind of stuff. It was not nice. It was not cool. I really felt like a prisoner.”

The singer served as the face of the 1970’s funk band Rufus for almost 20 years, gaining accolades such as two Grammy awards and numerous chart-topping hits.

CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding
CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding

“Anyway, I’d get on the bus after a gig, and I’d be getting f–ked up back there. I’d have all the windows open. The bus would be flying down the road, the wind blowing in the bus. I’d have Joni Mitchell blaring through the windows on the bus by myself back there. And she saved my life, on the Hejira album especially,” she explained. “When I listened to the words she was singing, they just spoke my life, what I was going through at the time. Like somebody really knew what I was going through. Because she was on the road, too. I got it.”

Mitchell’s influence was so strong on Khan’s life, that she was making sure to pass it down in her family.

“Now my daughter knows all her songs―she grew up listening to them. So Joni is a generational inspiration in my family,” she revealed.

CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding
CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding
CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding
CHAKA KHAN – Photographer Credit: Timothy Fielding

Khan is mother to daughter Milini Khan and her son Damien Holland.

The famed musician has even shown her love for Mitchell with multiple tributes.

“I have a whole album of Joni Mitchell songs. I was going to release them this year, but it’s my 50th-year celebration this year so I have to wait,” she admitted. “I’m doing another CD this year, but I’m gonna include a couple of the songs that I was gonna use for her tribute album. Down the road a bit, I’ll release the entire offering. This year I have to focus on my 50-year thingy.”

As for her own work, Khan said she’s going to focus on making new music and unlikely to tour anytime soon.

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“I’m not gonna be roading it that much. I’m finna pull a Taylor Swift on this shit, put a lot of music out there. This will be like my farewell. I’ll do some dates this year, but it’s not gonna be a full-blown tour,” she added. “It’ll be me doing some choice dates and preferably large, open-air concerts, some with Philharmonics, like Disney Hall, stuff like that. Maybe one or two gigs a month. I’m just coming down off two years of road tours. I’m 70 years old―I’ll be damned if I’m gonna kill myself out there doing this shit.”

Read the full interview at Hits Daily Double.