Reflections: What A True Diva Is

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    There was a time when the word “diva,” aside from its operatic origin, was used to designate ladies of song whose achievements were monumental and enduring.

    But eventually the term got diluted and began being applied to any songstress who was popular at the moment. It was, in fact, being tossed around so casually that Gladys Knight, one of the real divas, said she no longer wanted to be identified as such.

    The true (African-American) divas are Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. I call them the superdivas.

    Almost, but not quite, are Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and maybe Roberta Flack, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Beyoncé  seems to be a sure bet for the future.

    The first six ladies — Ross, Franklin, Turner, Warwick, LaBelle and Knight — established themselves in the 1960s and have remained massively popular ever since. It would take reams of paper to document their individual achievements.

    “Divadom” is a special place, reserved for a select few.

    GOOD NEWS for Monica. Her new album, “Still Standing,” had a hugely successful debut on the national charts, surpassing all of the competition to secure the No. 2 position on the Top 200 Pop Albums chart.

    Monica, who will be 30 in October, has developed into a strong singer and blossomed into an exceptionally beautiful  woman. She was vocally and visually breathtaking on Jay Leno’s show last week.

    I got a kick out of the multitalented Nick Cannon (actor, rapper, TV host, comedian) describing himself as an “entrepretainer,” blending “entrepreneur” and “entertainer.”  It proves that he has a firm grip on the fact that it is show business.

    Veteran guitarist Dennis Coffey, who played on so many hits for Motown (among other companies) and scored a Top 10 hit of his own (“Scorpio”), confirmed one reason why so many recording artists (young and otherwise) get in so much trouble. They sign contracts without reading carefully and/or without having legal representation.

    In his very interesting autobiography, “Guitars, Bars and Motown Superstars,” Coffey revealed that contracts can be up to 50 pages long.

    ERYKAH BADU, described by one journalist as “R&B’s hippie high priestess,” is not one to criticize those who adhere to the tenets of organized religion. However, she says, “Art is my religion.”

    Another thing that sets her apart from other artists is that she is in full control of every aspect of her career, including songs, videos, marketing, attire, packaging, booking, liner notes, etc. Well, that’s one way to make sure things are done to your liking.

    It is strange the way hospitals advertise these days. What next? Specials? “Have one surgery, get a second one free?”  “Ten for 10” sales on prescriptions? Visit a doctor and “pay nothing for three years”?

    Rihanna’s “Last Girl on Earth” tour begins July 2 in Seattle and concludes Aug. 25 in Chicago. Yes, Detroit is in the schedule — Aug. 22 at the DTE Energy Theatre. Meanwhile, her “Rated R” album continues to be a giant seller.

    Whitney Houston is still having issues,hence the bad reviews and disgruntled concertgoers at shows in Australia and Asia. She had to cancel a show in Paris on April 6. Actually, it was too soon after rehab for Houston to do a concert tour.

    Johnny Mathis, the epitome of the word “legend,” is still going strong. He just completed his “umpteenth” album, titled “Let It Be Me – Mathis in Nashville.”

    Meanwhile, soul legend Solomon Burke has a new album, titled “Nothing’s Impossible.”

    I actually now enjoy “Dancing With the Stars” more than “American Idol.” (And everyone knows about my fondness for “American Idol.”) I am especially impressed when celebrities who are not dancers do an outstanding job on dance floor.

    …that the Edwin Hawkins Singers were originally known as the Northern California State Youth Choir.

    MEMORIES: “Keep Your Head to the Sky” (Earth, Wind & Fire), “Right Place, Wrong Time” (Dr. John), “Forever My Lady” (Jodeci), “B-A-B-Y” (Carla Thomas), “Young Hearts Runs Free” (Candi Staton), “Slow Hand” (the Pointer Sisters), “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (Steam), “Turn on Your Love Light” (Bobby “Blue” Bland), “You Remind Me” (Mary J. Blige), “Show and Tell” (Al Wilson).

    BLESSINGS to Charles Rudolph and Willie Williams (thanks  for the letters), Robert Kerse, Dina Peace, Suesetta McCree, James McCree, Damon Williams, Calvin R. Covington (thanks for the poem), Charles Young,   Dave Bing, Hansen Clarke, Jay Butler and Marva Stafford.

    WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Alan Cohen: “If you know your true worth, you do not need anyone to confirm it, and every decision you make reflects what you believe about yourself.”

    Let the music play!

    (Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)


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