What does the term "soul diva" mean, and who could it apply to?


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Melinda Moore Profile
Melinda Moore , Soul music fan, answered

The word "diva" comes from the Italian, meaning "deity". It is usually used to denote a female opera singer who has had considerable success in the musical world - though, more recently, it has also come to mean someone with an over-sized ego, who makes unreasonable demands on others.

I'm sticking to the original definition, though - and so I guess a soul diva would be someone who has had great, and well-deserved success in the world of soul music.

I can't think of a better example of this than Aretha Franklin. She was given the title, "Queen of Soul" early on in her career, and has been ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the ninth best singer of all time.

Confusingly, Aretha also made number one on the magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time!

Here she is, in all her glory, in one of my all-time favourite songs:

And in another, introduced by a very young Cliff Richard:

Another reason that I think Aretha deserves the title of soul diva is how long her career has lasted, and how she adapts her music to current tastes. For example, here's Aretha in 1985, with "Who's Zoomin' Who?" 

Another thing that confirms Aretha's still-powerful influence, is the fact that so many younger artists still want to record with her. These have included:

  • Annie Lennox
  • George Michael
  • Mariah Carey
  • Whitney Houston
  • Mary J Blige (with whom Aretha won her 18th Grammy award, in 2008.

Aretha has also appeared in a number of hit films, including "Car Wash" and "The Blues Brothers".

Her voice is remarkable, especially live - I doubt she's ever had to be auto-tuned! - and it's even more remarkable, when you consider that Aretha was apparently a chain-smoker until the early 1990s. 

She's also been guilty of some pretty dodgy fashion choices over the years, such as the hat she wore, when she  performed at President Obama's inauguration in 2009!

She's still the soul diva, as far as I'm concerned, though - despite the hat - but there are so many great Aretha songs to choose from, that I can only give you a snapshot here, of the reasons why I think she's so great. 

So, to prove why Aretha Franklin is also known as "Lady Soul", I'll just leave you with this song, which ought to be all the proof it'll take!

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