The epitome of a diva

Published April 26, 2007

A quick lesson on the essence of divadom:

Originally an opera term co-opted by snarky pop music critics, "diva" is used to describe a female singer who has 1 successfully untethered herself from reality, (2) spent most of her life living in a perfumed cloud of fabulousness, (3) slapped one or more butlers.

A diva has no idea how much a quart of milk costs; a diva has 10 assistants to research that information for her. Music writers love to toss around the D-word, but few singers have actually earned it.

Beyonce? Too self-aware. Mary J.? Too humble. Christina? Too married. Mariah, however, is filling out the paperwork as we speak.

No singer defines divadom quite like R&B goddess Diana Ross. Remember a few years ago, on the MTV Video Music Awards, when Ms. Ross jiggled the bosom of rapper Lil' Kim? Only a diva can get away with that; the rest of us either go to jail or get stabbed by one of Kim's henchmen.

But also remember this: A diva gets to be a diva by having more talent than the rest of the room. And Ross, with that flirty soulful croon, is certainly in that category. Helming the most successful act in Motown history, Ross and the Supremes cranked out hit after hit: Stop! In the Name of Love, Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go? She went solo in 1970, but the hits didn't stop: Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand), Touch Me in the Morning, I'm Coming Out, Upside Down.

She'll no doubt perform all of these hits tonight. Why? Because the one thing divas love more than themselves is the sweet sound of applause.

Diana Ross performs at 8 tonight, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $49.50-$125. (727) 791-7400; www.rutheckerdhall.com.

Sean Daly can be reached at (727) 893-8467 or sdaly@sptimes.com His blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.