Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Diva History Month, Part 3 (1942-present)

The final entry in my three-part series. You may notice some obvious omissions - especially when it comes to the disco era and the current wave of divas. There's always next February.
Marlena Shaw (Marlina Burgess, born 1942) an outrageous jazz and cabaret singer who started performing in the 1960s. Sandra Bernhard's take on Me & Mrs. Jones is a direct homage to Marlena's performance style.
Aretha Louise Franklin (born 1942) is "The Queen of Soul”. In 2008,  Rolling Stone ranked Franklin #1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Franklin has won 20 Grammys to date, which include the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She recently sang in a ridiculous hat at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
Marilyn McCoo (born 1943) is singer, well known for being the lead female vocalist in the group The Fifth Dimension, as well as hosting the popular 1980s music countdown series SOLID GOLD. The Fifth Dimension is a multiple Grammy-winning popular music vocal group, known for the hits Up, Up and Away, Wedding Bell Blues, Stoned Soul Picnic  and Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.

Leslie Uggams (Born 1943) is an actress and singer, perhaps best known for her role in ROOTS, as Kizzy. Uggams also starred in the 1975 cult film POOR PRETTY EDDIE in which she played a singer who is abused and humiliated by the sick & twisted denizens of a backwoods Southern town. Read my review here. Early in 2009, Uggams will appearas the legendary jazz singer Lena Horne in the stage musical Stormy Weather at the Pasadena Playhouse in California.
Gladys Maria Knight (Born 1944), "The Empress of Soul," is an R&B/soul singer-songwriter. With her group, The Pips she scored many hits including The Midnight Train to Georgia. In 1986, Knight joined with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John on the AIDS benefit single, That's What Friends Are For which won a Grammy. In the spring of 2008, Gladys appeared alongside Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Diana Ross at the Divas with Heart concert.Patti LaBelle (Patricia Louise Holte, born 1944) is a R&B and soul singer-songwriter and cookbook author. She fronted two groups, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, and Labelle, which had a breakthrough hit in 1974 with their song Lady Marmalade. She went on to have a solo recording career well into the 1990s.
Diana Ross (Diane Ernestine Ross, born 1944) is a recording artist, actress, and entertainer. During the 1960s, she was the lead singer of The Supremes before leaving for a solo career in the beginning of 1970. In 1972, LADY SINGS THE BLUES featured Ross giving a bravura performance as Billie Holiday, earning her an Oscar nomination. In 1975, Ross starred in the camp classic MAHOGANY and in 1978 she was featured in the commercial and critical failure THE WIZ .
Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, (Born 1950) is a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Armatrading had a string of critically acclaimed albums through the 1970s and 80s, and she is a three-time Grammy Award-nominee.Natalie Maria Cole (Born 1950), the daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole is a pop music performer who has won ten Grammy Awards. She achieved success in her early career as an R&B star, but smoothly changed her repertoire toward a more jazz orientated musical style in the early 1990s, including a posthumous duet with her father.
Chaka Khan (Born 1953) is an singer known for hit songs such as I'm Every Woman and I Feel for You. Khan was first featured as a member of the funk band Rufus before beginning her solo career, earning her the title of the "Queen of Funk Soul"Dianne Reeves (Born 1956) is a jazz singer, known for her outstanding live performances as much as her albums. I’ve seen her perform a few times and is quite memorable. She has to date won four Grammy Awards.Cassandra Wilson (Born 1955) is an jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Her cover versions of pop standards and rock songs are modern classics. She has won two Grammy Awards.Mary Edwards (Born 1960-something) is an up and coming composer and performer whose 1960s and 1970s influences are evident in her cinematically-inspired recordings.Dana Elaine Owens (born 1970), better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, is a former rapper who has found much acclaim as smooth-voiced pop singer and actress. Latifah's work in music, film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, and a Grammy Award.


Davelandweb said...

Hey Doug - Here's a shout-out for Dinah Washington; she’s the one who taught us what a difference a day makes. Great series!

Tony Z™ said...

No Beyonce? :-P

When Latifah was "just a rapper," I couldn't have cared less about her. Post-rapping, I LOVE her. She just about amazes me with every turn she makes!

doug said...

What's a Beyonce?

tommy said...

how could you leave out whitney huston and janet jackson? they are the greatest singers of all time!!!

doug said...

Hi Tommy - Like I've said before this series of posts are MY OPINION of who I think is talented, influential and worthy of my praise. Whitney and Janet, while they are popular like Beyonce and many others - do NOTHING for me, and therefore do not warrant to be part of MY tribute.

I do regret leaving out a few others like Linda Hopkin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irma Thomas, Patti Austin, Little Eva, LaVern Baker, Lola Falana, Esther Phillips and a few others. They'll be on next February's list for sure. But I can guarantee you won't find a Janet, Whitney or Beyonce on MY list, ever. Thanks for reading! :)

PS - you could always make your own list.

givepeace05401 said...

I was going to commend you on your Diva postings until I got to the write up on Diana Ross.

You gave freaking Latifah more respect. Was there some point you were trying to make?

Doug said...

Hey givepeace05401, This was just a quick overview of who I find worthy of MY praise and wasn't meant to single out any individuals over another. I think I gave Diana her rightful props. In my opinion, Miss Ross was never that great a singer - but a very talented and influential performer. I think Latifah is a much more powerful vocalist and comparing the two is like comparing oranges and comquats. Keep reading!

Derek said...

No Grace Jones? Ah well..