please select from any of the categories listed below. while i've attempted to group artists
appropriately, divas are apt to transcend such transitory classifications. if you can't find who
you're looking for, search the index at the bottom of the page.
the awe-inspiring sounds of billie holiday, ella fitzgerald, dinah washington and sarah vaughn take us
back to a time when music caused people to fall in love, not into bed. and while it seemed, for a
while, that talent such as theirs had become extinct, we are fortunate to finally be seeing a
light at the end of the darkness. artists such as cassandra wilson, rachelle ferrell and nnenna freelon
are picking up the torch of strength, style and skill, reminding us of a time when the voice was an
instrument and the singer a celebrity. blues fans, too, are able to breathe a sigh of releif at the
debut release of zakiya hooker's album. taking inspiration of legends such as ma rainey and bessie
smith, john lee hooker's daughter is finding her own voice as she breathes new life into the blues.
artists like toni braxton, anita baker, patti labelle and the reigning queen of soul, aretha franklin,
have proven the title of this musical category to be accurate by touching our souls with songs sung
from the soul...a union of jazz, blues and rock, r&b music has profoundly influenced a variety of
musical genres and, in doing so, has brought into the spotlight a number of true divas; like blues before
it, r&b seems to exhalt its female denizens while serving as a epicenter for all predominantly
african-american musical genresrap, hip hop, quiet storm, etc...unlike blues, today's r&b divas,
such as brandy, monica, brownston and en vogue, are getting the respect and attention they deserve.
certainly, r&b lends itself to the soul-revealing raw intensity that so becomes a diva.
in many people's minds, celia cruz is not only the queen of salsa, but also the matriarch of all
spanish-language music. recently, artists like alexa, india, albita and selena have attempted to
position themselves to step into her shoes, but, with a nation-wide tour currently underway, ms. cruz shows no
signs of slowing down. the ensuing fray, though, has provided us with a wealth of latin divas
brought into the spotlight, perhaps, by the cross-over success of cuban-american superstar gloria
en la mente de muchas, celia cruz no solamente es la reina de salsa, sino la matriarca de toda
musica en español. últimamente, artistas como alexa, india, albita y selena han
intentado a ponerse en la posición de llevar sus zapatos, pero, con una gira en marcha, la
señora cruz no demuestra ningunos señales de que vaya a perder su ímpetu. sus
seguidores, sin embargo, nos ha dejado con una riqueza de divas llevadas a la atención del
púlico, tal vez, por el éxito de la cubana-americana super-estrella, gloria estefan.
from "proud mary" to riot grrrls, women in rock have never received the recognition they deserve.
and while accolades are not readily forthcoming, significant contributions by women such as melissa
ethridge, tina turner and aretha franklin are undeniable. ever since the late eighties, when "female
rock" categories were first added to award programs, and the general public was introduced to artists
like tanita tikaram, toni childs and sinead o'connor, we have witnessed unparalleled growth in a
genre that was previously non-existant. today, original rockers such as chrissie hynde and pat
benatar continue to rock alongside industry infants such as fiona apple and alanis morrissette.
mary j. blige, the self-proclaimed queen of hip-hop soul represents all the qualities or her genreá
strength, determination and poise. a fusion of rap, r&b and soul, hip hop has given birth to such
talents as total, xscape and missy "misdemeanor" elliot. and, with the increasing infusion of
vocalization in rap, and the preeminence of rap in r&b, it's often difficult to draw clear lines
between the two. as in rock, women in rap have faced a long and hard journey to be acknowledged. when
"push it" and "supersonic" hit the airwaves in the early eighties, the media speculated that the role
of women in rap would be short-lived. but ten years later, salt-n-pepa are poised to release their
much-anticipated fifth studio album, proving that they, along with contemporaries da brat, li'l kim,
foxy brown and tlc have what it takes to make it in a male-dominated arena.
madonna, the queen of pop, is to music what andy wharhol was to art. in the eighties, she, along
with artists such as paula abdul, janet jackson and cyndi lauper, showed that one could substitute
entertainment value for vocal talent and acheive outstanding record sales. pop music is not without
it's merits, though. it's pop music that makes us want to get up and dance; it's pop music that
makes those long car rides bearable; and it's pop music that can bring back the past like nothing
else. "vocal" music lives on the fringes of popá vocal talent is more prevalent than entertainment
value, and the music usually boarders adult contemporary. some record distributors mistakenly include
female jazz singers in this category, but that belies their contribution to their genre.
like rap, country and folk music serve as a voice for the people. though most country and folk
artists come from humble, blue-collar beginnings, these genres have, undeniably, produced several
divas. from patsy cline and joan baez to dolly parton and nanci griffith, women are still producing
grass-roots music to which people can relate. and even with the ever-increasing urbanization of the
united states, artists like leeanne rimes and jewel suggest that country and folk are still going
strong. perhaps their continued influence on genres such as r&b and rock have helped to sustain
and perpetually revitalize country and folk throughout the decades.
throughout history, every culture in the world has been touched by the music of women. from the
african insangoma to the italian opera diva, women have always contributed to their musical
environment. unfortunately, america's role as leader in the music industry has made us egocentric,
causing us to turn a deaf ear to the melodies of other peoples. however, cross-over successes of the
past decades, such as enya and ofra haza (who appeared on paula abdul's head over heals) have
opened the doors for the likes of tania maria, cesaria evora and angèlique kidjo to build
upon their current success.
of all the musical realms inhabited by women, none other is controlled more completely than that of
the dancefloor. from the 1970s debut of dance music in the mainstream to the current crop of disco
divas, women have ruled supreme in the nightclubs. while a handful of solo artists existrobin s.,
cece penniston, martha wash, etc.one is more likely to find today's divas paired with the genre's
hottest djs; such is the case with m people's heather small, la bouche's melanie thorton and a
number of others. since the release of such disco classics as gloria gaynor's "i will survive" and
sister sledge's "we are family", dance music has so engrained itself in the music industry that pop
and r&b artists like madonna, janet jackson, mariah carey and toni braxton have all jumped on the
bandwagon by releasing club remixes of their work.
accepted as a sensible and respectable field of study for women since the inception of formalized
education, classical music has offered a window of opportunity for women for centuries. and while
women have since kicked down the patriarchal doors of such genres as rap, country and rock, there
is by no means a shortage of those who choose to pursue careers in classical music. from jessye
norman to linda brava, women are as well-represented in classical music as they are in any
other form. and with modern pop artists such as janet collaborating with classical divas kathleen
battle and vanessa mae, a whole new audience is being introduced to one of modern music's most
solid roots. today, singers like chaka khan, tina turner and whitney houston command respect for
their poise and talent, but it was opera's famed singers who were first given the title of diva.
singing has been a part of religion since the dawn of time and, in many cases, women were respected
nowhere more than within the realm of the spirit. for that reason, it is no wonder that gospel music
has produced some of pop, country, r&b, blues and rock music's greatest musical talents. and, while gospel
music has always represented a genre all its own, the past two decades have seen the slow emergence
of cross-over gospel that appeals to the public in much the same way as the country-pop fusion
produced by artists such as leanne rimes and shania twain. though the dance- and pop-infused
gospel of artists such as ann nesby and amy grant, respectively, is considered blasphemous by some, it
serves to keep alive the spirit and tradition of such gospel greats as mahalia jackson. additionally,
the success of pop diva whitney houston's the preacher's wife soundtrack and newcommers'
trin-i-tee 5:7's self-titled debut release send a very definite message to the recording
industry that there remains a strong market for gospel music and, as is often the case, women are
leading the way.
though club culture is renowned for having cultivated the creative natures of divas such as madonna and rupaul, the
enclave of artists spinning the beats remains one of music's last bastions of masculinity. perhaps it's because
underneath the pulsating lights of the disco, women were valued more as aesthetically-pleasing frontwomen than
djs. perhaps it's because the art of djing grew out of technically-based production for which, it is commonly
believe, women are ill-suited. or, perhaps it's just one of the music industry's last old-boy networks,
consciously and unconsciously responsible for surpressing the artistic voices of its female practicioners. whatever
the reason, just as within every other genre of music, women are finally having their turn. having first gained
recognition as the prerequisite sidekicks of early female mcs who either could not find male djs willing to
accompany them or who just preferred to work with other women, diva djs can now be heard spinning all styles from
hip-hop and house to jungle and drum & bass. from artists who have been with us for over a decade like
spinderella to newer artists whose names are well-recognized enough to earn them solo records like dj rap
and 1.8.7, female djs have emerged as a new, exciting and apparently permanent part of the global music landscape.