By Moira Cue
So far in the top ten divas series, we've explored two incredible, iconic voices: Nina Simone, and Janis Joplin. These are women of spirit and soul, who SING through the ages, though they were also known for their leadership and musicianship. The third diva on my list appears not by virtue of her voice, which is lovely enough, but by virtue of being one of the greatest entertainers who has ever lived.
"Live to Tell," Music video of the hit song performed by Madonna, written by Patrick Leonard, for the Madonna album "True Blue" (copyright 1986, Sire) from the film soundtrack "At Close Range" starring Sean Penn, Chris Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Krispin Glover (copyright 1986, Hemdale, Orion Pictures, copyright 2013, Warner Brothers, all rights reserved.
In a world where pop stars come and go every few months, where one hundred thirty pounds is considered obese and thirty years old is considered over-the-hill, Madonna has held on to the trim body and appearance of youth, if anything appearing younger and more beautiful as time passes, while running her career like the seasoned senior executive of a globally recognized brand that she is. The words “diva” and “mogul,” with their respective feminine and masculine halos, perhaps equally apply to this woman. Though very much a feminine being, she has integrated her own masculine energy in a balanced, enviable manner. Madonna's legendary power over men may be based on the simple fact that as stunning as she is physically, and as much as she enjoys having a man appreciate her beauty and charm, she doesn't really need a man, certainly not in the traditional sense of someone to provide for her, protect her, or help her think logically. (Not that there's anything wrong with a woman who does need these things, either.)
Madonna's button-pushing, exhibitionism, and overt sexuality have been imitated by scores of would-be heirs to her throne, yet these imitators lack one essential characteristic that made it all so compelling the first time around. It's called heat. Some singing stars have the It Factor, some the voice, some have a gimmick, and some are simply fortunate. But who can compete with Madonna's sexuality? (Or, for that matter, her business savvy?)
Moreover, who cares? Her wild days in New York City, tumultuous marriage with Sean Penn, romances with men as diverse as Warren Beatty and Dennis Rodman, dalliances with lesbianism, and another marriage to director Guy Ritchie are all behind her. We still tune in to hear what she has to say, even if she's talking calmly about being a mother or her spiritual devotion to Kabbalah, instead of gyrating. Madonna's name is still, after all these years and all this drama, synonymous with “success.”
She's always been present, intelligent, and fashionable. Today she defies the odds by continuing to do what she does, showing us that refusal to limit one's self can trump social bias (in relation to the female double standard and aging).
Madonna's major accomplishments include, among more, eight worldwide concert tours (Who's That Girl, Blond Ambition, The Girlie Show, Drowned World Tour, Re-Invention World Tour, Confessions Tour, Sticky & Sweet Tour, and The MDNA Tour), a record 156 number-one singles on the Billboard charts (the most for any artist), a Best Actress Golden Globe (for the title role in Evita), critical acclaim for her Broadway debut in David Mamet's Speed the Plow, and, most recently, receiving the number one spot on Forbes “celebrity money” list in 2013.
Her causes include gay and lesbian human rights, education for girls in developing nations, and promoting unity between multiple spiritual traditions. For her extraordinary accomplishment and commitment to personal development, Madonna truly deserves to be called “one of the top ten divas of all time.”
This story is ©2014, The Hollywood Sentinel, Moira Cue, all world rights reserved.