Ultimate Divas: The Greatest Female Vocalists of Our Time' Celebrates 17 World-Class Singers.
Collection ranges from Billie, Lena, Ella and Sarah to Aretha, Whitney, Tina, Dionne and Diana; set for June 1st in-store release. Liner notes by Nelson George confirm the first-class arrival of pop, jazz and especially R&B singers into the 'Diva' pantheon.
An essential new collection that gathers together the most outstanding female voices in pop, jazz and R&B, ULTIMATE DIVAS: THE GREATEST FEMALE VOCALISTS OF OUR TIME confirms the notion that has gained wide acceptance over the last decade - that the term 'Diva' no longer belongs exclusively to the classical opera world. The new album is set for June 1st in-store date.
Executive producer of ULTIMATE DIVAS was Clive Davis, who has served as executive producer of Arista albums by Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Monica, Deborah Cox, and other artists; as well as last year's best-selling collection, ULTIMATE BROADWAY. Project direction for ULTIMATE DIVAS was by Steve Bartels and Gary Pacheco.
An extraordinary array of talented women who have never been heard together in such an anthology before, ULTIMATE DIVAS begins its program with legendary recordings from Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald, the singers who provided the roots of female vocal artistry in the modern pop era. Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle present a seamless transition into the contemporary '90s. The current decade is represented by Chaka Khan, Annie Lennox, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. (See compete sequence below.)
"For most of the 20th century, jazz, blues and pop singers were regarded by the most prestigious cultural gatekeepers as, at best, second-class citizens," writes noted author and music historian Nelson George in his liner notes to ULTIMATE DIVAS. "Whereas the opera diva was a symbol of high-brow culture, these other forms were viewed as low-brow, whose mass appeal somehow confirmed their very unworthiness. Thankfully, the second half of this century has seen those notions overturned."
Whether it was Annie Lennox's Grammy-nominated Arista album Diva or Whitney Houston's stunning "I Have Nothing" (both 1992 recordings) that began to change the public's mind, or Aretha Franklin's showstopping performance of the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma" at the Grammy Awards in 1998 - the end result cannot be denied. VH1's "Divas Live" united Aretha, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain for a landmark television event (and subsequent album and home video) that established the dominance of pop, jazz and especially R&B singers. "Divas Live '99," with ULTIMATE DIVAS' Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige among this year's stars, returned to television on April 13.
"The diva persona - one of grand gestures, regal demands and celebrated talent - has become part of our cultural folklore," Nelson George writes. "In the last few decades 'diva' has become a more democratic word, one now associated with pop music. Now the soul singer with gospel roots, the jazz vocalist with impeccable phrasing, and the pop star who can powerfully propel a solid hook are the world's divas - something conformed by the ULTIMATE DIVAS collection."
'ULTIMATE DIVAS: THE GREATEST FEMALE VOCALISTS OF OUR TIME:
1. Billie Holiday - My Man (Mon Homme) 1949
NEWSFILE: 6 MAY 1999
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