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Evolution of the Diva
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Diva-lution: The rise of the female superstar

The evolution of the species for pop, rock and R&B divas

By Sean Nelson
Special to MSN Music

The meaning of the word "diva" has changed a lot in the past century, though unlike "awesome," "literally" and many other words devalued by slang, the new definition actually comes closer to the origin of the word. Time was when a diva was an opera singer and not much else. The current usage applies to superstar female performers in any genre -- preferably with an attitude (and entourage) to match -- and is as much about presence, about magnitude, as talent, harking back to the Italian root of the word: diva, as in divine one, as in goddess. This gallery examines the evolution of not just the word, but of the incandescent women who have embodied it over the years.