Buy Used
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Sold by Slategray Books
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: EX-Library with normal library attachments, markings, wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Soulful Divas: Personal Portraits of over a dozen divine divas from Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, & Diana Ross, to Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, & Janet Jackson Hardcover – January 1, 1999

26 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
$23.50 $0.01

Best Books of the Year So Far
Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Editorial Reviews Review

David Nathan's life changed as an English teenager in the '60s. The agent of that shift? Records by black American singers such as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and Nina Simone. Soon he was the head of Simone's British fan club, and in short order, became a journalist with growing access to his heroines. Over the ensuing years, and Billboard contributor Nathan has had Franklin bake him a peach cobbler, stood under the thrown shade of everyone from Esther Phillips to Anita Baker, and even had Miss Ross ask him to call her "Diana." The Soulful Divas captures Nathan's obsession with his favorites, providing two-layered narratives that meld career rundowns with interviews and other personal meetings with his subjects. Most of the 14 single-artist chapters are successful portraits, with the exception of Nathan's profile of Natalie Cole, whose drug problems and career resurrection in the shade of her late father are little more than the stuff of a legend-in-her-own-mind. A dearth of material weakens a closing chapter on young divas Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Toni Braxton. But Nathan also provides many invaluable, eye-opening moments, such as the story of a baseball-bat-wielding Phillips threatening to smash up the offices of a record company slow to pay royalties. Finally, he fills out the received wisdom on "X-rated" Millie Jackson, who says, "When I'm home, it's crossword puzzles, television, and the kids." Kids who no doubt, like Nathan, picked up their share of tips on life and love from Jackson and her sisters. --Rickey Wright

From the Inside Flap

: "Do You Know the Way To San Jose?" "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." "Respect." "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." "I'm Every Woman." "I've Got Love On My Mind." "Lady Marmalade." "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." "Giving You The Best That I Got." "When I Think Of You."

Have you stopped humming or singing along yet? Each of these memorable songs is just one of the many tunes recorded by some of the most divine voices in the music business. Dionne Warwick. Diana Ross. Aretha Franklin. Roberta Flack. Chaka Khan. Natalie Cole. Patti LaBelle. Whitney Houston. Anita Baker. Janet Jackson. While the names of these singers - as well as those of Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Esther Phillips, Phyllis Hyman, Doris Troy, Millie Jackson, and Toni Braxton - and their hits are well known and instantly recognizable, their stories aren't. Until now that is. In The Soulful Divas, David Nathan profiles the greatest female rhythm and blues vocalists of the past three decades as never before. He celebrates these outstanding artists in fascinating, unsanitized, behind-the-scenes portraits. All of the profiles are based on the author's longstanding, personal relationships with the women featured, and are an outgrowth of both his in-person interview sessions and informal chats. The result is an entertaining, candid look at the ups and downs of each performer's career, as well as how these African-American women have wielded power in a basically white, male-dominated industry.


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Billboard Books; English Language edition (February 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823084256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823084258
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karl Miller on April 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I wanted to love this book...after all, the music world is filled with legendary anecdotes of some of the women profiled by Mr. Nathans (Diana's attitudes, Chaka's seductive powers, Natalie's substance abuse history), and together these women could make a CD that you'd drop in the player on Sunday, and still be singing along with come payday.
Unfortunately, the profiles are more cotton candy than ham hocks. Most of these ladies would deserve (and have allready written, or have had written about them) entire tomes which still leave out juicy details. The section on Phyliss Hyman, a masterful, yet tragic soulstress, leaves the reader starved for more of a history. The Patti LaBelle pages ignore key sections of her (and her bandmates) historic segue from a "girl group" to the infamous glitter sisters known as LaBelle.
There are some excellent photos in this book, and some interesting stories about the profiled women, but most of the details have been previously discussed by the singers themselves.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Raider Jack on November 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is obvious that David Nathan truly idolizes his subjects which probably accounts for the calculated design at the end of each chapter to make sure in no uncertain terms that he has shown that subject in her best light. I can certainly empathize because many of the divas profiled are true favorites of mine. That said, soul diva aficionados will readily recognize this as a collection of all-too-familiar press clippings even the most casual follower has at least heard of. To his credit, it is indeed refreshing to hear about lesser publicized divas like Esther Phillips, Millie Jackson, Nina Simone, Doris Troy or Phylllis Hyman. And ultimately, the final chapter sketching younger divas appeared entirely too hastily thrown together with the end result being little more than an unsatisfying epilogue.
Quite honestly, if you are in to black female vocalists, this, of course, was an easy, flattering read. However, the finished product is little more than an indulgent scrapbook by a journalist who, apparently, could have shed infinitely more light on the personalities he featured, but declined or refused out of either fierce loyalty or abject fear. Not only do the subjects deserve more than this, but so does the author.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bagley on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Soulful Divas, David Nathan - a true lover of r&B music - has compiled interviews with many of his favorite singers of the past 40 years. Some of the subjects, like that of the humorously raunchy Millie Jackson and the troubled Nina Simone, make for compelling reading. Most suffer from his endless fawning however. Take, for instance, Diana Ross. By all other accounts, Miss Ross is a difficult person, yet Nathan makes her out to be practically a saint.
Nathan's frequent access to all of the top divas exposes the modern journalist's dilemma: if he fully captures his subjects in print, warts and all, he risks alienating them and being denied interview access to them in the future. Instead, Nathan fawns all over his subjects and gets repeat interviews with high-profile women who are often leery of the press (Aretha Franklin for one). Because of his "tactics", we are able to enjoy his many interviews in one setting (this book). Too bad most of his portraits don't penetrate the surface.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must for music lovers. I have followed the careers of every Diva in this book, my only dissapointment is that wasnt longer and included more Diva's. I especially enjoyed the one on one with Aretha, Patti, Diana, Dionne, and Glady's. I have a new R-E-S-P-E-C-T for all the Diva's. Mr. Nathan gives great insight on what sacrifices that each performer has made to become a star. He shows that its not all its crack up to be. I hope that this books shoots straight to the top. I can guarantee that you will not be dissapointed with this book. Pick up a copy and give it to friends. These Divas story need to be told to the world.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
David Nathan continues his sojourn into African-American folklore in a most sincere manner. The only objection I have is his inclusion of Doris Troy. She was bigger in Great Britain than in America, but as 'blue-eyed soul' royalty he is allowed this bit of self-indulgence (smiles). He makes the reader feel each chapter and get a real sense of what each diva is really like. Perhaps Aretha Franklin should've hired Nathan to collaborate with her on her autobiography, for he knows things about her that she has either forgotten or doesn't want to recall. When I think of David, I think of his aways on point observations about 'divas', and after all it takes a true one, to know one. From one 'diva' to another, you go boy. Exceptional coverage on Nina Simone and Chaka Khan. This should be required reading for all aspiring vocalist and entertainers. There have been many books and essays written about several of the luminaries that Mr. Nathan writes about, the most unfortunate things is that none of them have given him adequate credit for providing their facts. From Aretha to Patti to Gladys to Dionne to Whitney and all others in between (and beyond), this guy knows the real deal. Millie Jackson should get you to collaborate with her on her autobiography real soon while you're hot, 'cause that lady is smoking and don't we love her frankness). Keep up the good work David.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: memoir