I read Patti LaBelle's article in PrideSource, and at the beginning, I wasn't sure that I agreed with her. I made it a point to do some research on the word to ensure I used its proper definition and not the general thesaurus of my person lexicon. As it turned out, she was right, to a point. The definition has definitely shifted.When you think of the word, if you are over 12, what names come to your mind? When you read the definition of the word diva, do those singers remain on your list? Let's face it, all of our pop icons are tarnished, as that seems to be what is selling in the industry right now. But the word itself has a meaning that we should consider a bit more heavily before we place it on someone's head.
Talent. Beauty. Self-respect. Class. Sass. Patronage. Performance. Fans. Much has changed since the word joined our language, but much hasn't. The Diva Debate on Music Choice is throwing around the idea that Beyoncé has replaced Whitney Houston as the reigning diva. It's been a year since Whitney passed. Come on now. Even Beyonce knows better. According to her, "[Whitney] is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us."
Now Beyonce has an amazing talent and a seriously working gimmick. To drop an album basically on a whim (Beyoncé) and have 310,000 sales in the second week is major point in the argument that Beyonce is a Pop franchise with major power. She is truly iconic. I don't think Patti LaBelle was referring to her when she was talking about the "little heifers". Still, her song, "I'm a Diva" is part of the reason the word itself is taking a more negative lexical evolution, and causing a backlash in the culture of American women, specifically in the music industry.
The less well known singers with amazing talent are where I wanna put my ears most of the time, because they -- their voices, outfits, fragrances, reality shows, etc. aren't being shoved down my throat. I would rather hear Amel Larrieux, or Anita Baker, or even old Mariah Carey (before Charmbracelet) over Beyonce, except during workouts because "Crazy In Love" will always make the legwork go easier for me. I'd even like to hear some 80's and 90's Madonna because she too is iconic, though not necessarily a diva.
I'd like to see a real diva come up in the ranks of music and put in her time to earn the status. Her vocal talent will speak for her. And we will hear her in the first few notes of her song. We've had some hopefuls, but no one in my mind has that classy claim to fame that Whitney Houston had. I think that the most recent true diva hopeful was our own Jennifer Hudson, but there are too many pop music princesses for distillation at this point.
Patti LaBelle makes a very good point. And if you think about it, would a true diva call herself one?
Only time will tell.