As Beyoncé once said, “A true diva is graceful, and talented, and strong, and fearless and brave and someone with humility.” And she’s right: Modern divas are so much more than big voices in glittering gowns; they are complex women with a lot to say. On or off stage, they’re brazen, brilliant, and unpredictable — and they’ve earned the right to be heard.
The term “diva” has evolved from its original meaning, a powerful female opera singer who could belt it out at opera houses around the world, and expanded across all musical genres and beyond. Today, we call the leading ladies of pop, R&B, and country music divas — referring to their voices and dance moves, as well as the way they carry themselves, the way they command any space they’re in, and the bold messages they deliver.
From Madonna and Queen Latifah to Lena Horne and Dolly Parton, here is a taste of the wit and wisdom behind the most legendary, celebrated women in music. These inspiring quotes, pulled from interviews, articles, speeches, and social media, prove these singular talents have plenty to tell all of us about life, love, music, power, femininity, and feminism. And that is what a diva means today.
Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
– Dolly Parton
HEAR HER ROAR
There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.
TAKE WHAT’S YOURS
Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.
DO ONTO OTHERS
Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people.
– Aretha Franklin
I’ve been out of the box my whole entire career and I’m staying out of the box.
– Donna Summer
As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support and be enlightened by.
IT’S ALL YOU
I didn’t need a role model. I didn’t need to try to be like someone else. I just needed to be me.
– Queen Latifah
EMBRACE YOUR QUIRKS
Continue to embrace the things that make you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. You are enough.
– Janelle Monáe
I don’t think that we are born with a finite number of dreams. One thing about dreams is that they can be whatever you want them to be, you don’t have to put a limit on them, you don’t even have to know them.
CARRY IT WELL
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.
– Lena Horne
DIVA LESSONS FROM A DIVA
It takes a long time to get to be a diva. I mean, you gotta work at it.
– Diana Ross
IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU
I don’t care what people think about me, I care what they think about themselves.
– Lady Gaga
DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN
The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!
– Dolly Parton
YOU DO YOU
Don’t try to lessen yourself for the world; let the world catch up to you.
BORN TO SHINE
You have to be unique and different and shine in your own way.
– Lady Gaga
I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.
– Taylor Swift
A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.
KEY TO SUCCESS
For me, success is a state of mind. I feel like success isn’t about conquering something; it’s being happy with who you are.
– Britney Spear