The Diva Den
    There are few American colloquialisms that bother us more than the word "diva."  It's not because we have an aversion to the word as such.  Quite the contrary.  It is because we understand how it should be used that we recoil when we hear people refer to some out-of-the-gate pop star--or worse, a model--as a "diva."  Most of those folks will never qualify for divahood, and we kindly ask them to refrain from embarrassing themselves publicly (not to mention annoying those of us who know what the word means) and simply stop using the word.
And now ladies and gentlemen, The Divas...
    By our count, there are only fifteen ladies talented enough to gain membership in this very exclusive club.  The ladies listed below have qualities which make them a cut above the rest.  We think Divas should have the following:  a powerful voice (one that demands attention); a captivating presence; a capacity to transcend the musical medium; a chameleon-like ability to change with the times; undeniable glamour (she is the "It" factor); a sharp critical eye on her own talent, but a smooth confidence; at least one spectacular fall (she must collapse in front of us, regain her stature, and continue because she knows her audience needs her); a strong resolve in the face of negative criticism; a show business career which spans decades;  and major awards/nominations.
The Divas:

*Barbra Streisand. The uberDiva.
*Liza Minnelli. The Hollywood Christ-child.
*Diana Ross.  That's "Miss Ross" to you.
*Tina Turner.  "The Queen of Rock n' Roll."
*Cher.  "The Lazarus of Pop."
*Bette Midler.  "Bathhouse Betty."  (Or as we call her the Postmodern Queen of Burlesque.)
*Aretha Franklin. "The Queen of Soul."  (Or "Lady Soul" in certain circles.)
*Dolly Parton.  The Grand Southern Belle.
*Patti LuPone.  La Divina Incarnate.
*Donna Summer.  "The Queen of Disco."
*Bernadette Peters.  The Queen of Queens.
*Annie Lennox.  The Queen of Liminality.
*Chita Rivera.  The Showgirl.
*Julie Andrews.  The Disney Diva.
*Debbie Harry.  "The Queen of Punk."

Ladies Deserving Special Mention:

Cyndi Lauper, Betty Buckley, Patti LaBelle, Joan Baez, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Shirley MacLaine, Gladys Knight, Elaine Paige, Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, Jennifer Holliday, Gloria Estefan, Marianne Faithfull, Roberta Flack, Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, Lena Lovich, Nina Hagen, The Go-Go's, The Bangles, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Melissa Etheridge, Kylie Minogue, Grace Slick, Joan Jett, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Carly Simon, Tracy Ullman, Yoko Ono, Carol Channing, Bea Arthur, Angela Lansbury, Joni Mitchell, Olivia Newton-John, Sandra Bernhard, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Etta James, Dionne Warwick, Donna McKechnie, and Rita Moreno.

Divas On Deck:

There are a number of talented ladies out there.  With just a little luck and a bit more time the following may just achieve Divahood:

Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey.

Unproven, but Possibilities Exist for:

Mary J. Blige, Beyonce Knowles, Alanis Morissette, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Idina Menzell, and unfortunately, Lindsay Lohan/Hilary Duff.