it's seems like, between the feature film what's love got to do with it and the best-selling autobiography upon which it is based, i, tina, there's not a person alive who isn't familiar with the cinderella story that is tina turner's life. born anna mae bullock to tenant farmworkers in 1939, turner longed to escape the poverty and hardship of her hometown, nut bush, tennessee. salvation, however, would not come until 1956, when a seventeen year-old anna mae moved to st. louis to live with her mother and sister. older and more sophisticated, turner's sister, alline, took her young charge under her wing, exposing her to the bustling st. louis nightlife, of which she had already become an avid participant. it was at one of these evening outings that anna mae met ike turner, band leader of the local sensation, the kings of rhythm. a spectacular impromptu audition in front of a standing-room only crowd earned the would-be diva a spot as front woman for the kings, who soon came to be known as the ike and tina turner review.
perhaps the most highly-publicized aspect of turner's marriage to ike is the abuse that became an integral part of their relationship. for years, turner suffered in silence as her so-called husband used fear and intimidation to control his siren; despite being a skilled musician, ike realized that it was tina who was drawing the crowds and creating the record-selling hits. more than a decade of abuse came to a head when tina left ike with precious more than a gas card and a handful of change to her name. the ensuing divorce left tina responsible for months of unperformed bookings putting her deep into debt, even as she lived in fear of ike's retaliation. the early 1980s saw tina turner reemerge like a phoenix from the flames, with a new recording career and a highly-visible role in the mel gibson star vehicle mad max III: beyond thunderdome. with the release of private dancer, turner was back on top of her game, and has stayed there ever since. most recently, turner's status within the industry has been recognized with an invitation to perform at vh1's divas live 99 alongside fellow divas cher and whitney houston.
but the story of tina turner goes much, much deeper than what one can read in the pages of a book or view on the silver screen. tina turner is a cultural icon on par with billie holiday, aretha franklin or madonna. having overcome poverty and hardship to become one of the most successful entertainers in the industry, tina turner has broken down the racist and sexist walls that have insulated the world of rock music, paving the way for artists ranging from janis joplin to me'shell ndgeocello. her role as a feminist icon extends further, as her appeal as a woman and a performer shines brightly into her fifties. and, of course, the personal tribulations that affliected her relationship with her former husband reveals a determination and strength upon which anybody undergoing desperate times can draw to see their way through. when asked, once, why she chose to sing rock music, as opposed to the rhythm & blues most often associated with african-american artists, turner replied that she preferred rock because it tended to deal with happier subjects. and so, a young, troubled girl unwittingly comes to personify the expression "women in rock" by trying to give voice to her soul's pain. given all that she has undergone and all that she has come to represent, the term "diva" almost seems too diminutive.