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By Ricardo Hazell

What qualities does a woman need to possess to be a diva? As a man I can honestly say I do not know, but judging by the “Dynasty” episodes my mother would watch I can only speculate it has something to do with having a major attitude and an affinity for spontaneously smacking the taste out of someone’s mouth.

But after’s Lee Bailey spoke with actress, singer and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph, over lunch, we quickly realized being a diva was far more than that.

The original “Dreamgirl” has been the catalyst for the Diva Foundation and the Divas Simply Singing event for 20 years. By the time we were done we were thoroughly educated in diva-tude, and the great works performed by Sheryl Lee Ralph’s foundation.

“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since we have been singing,” said Ralph referring to her annual event coming up this Saturday, Oct 9th. “I’ve been nothing if not consistent in bringing to the stage some of the best and most talented people. I also remember I brought this group to the stage in the 3rd or 4th year called Wild Orchid. They did it for about 2 to 3 years and I used to tell people to watch out for the blonde white girl in the middle because, trust me, she’s going somewhere. I said she needed to get a new look, that girl became Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. I remember having a 6 year old Raven-Symone on stage with me and I said ‘Baby, all you have to do is take a few classes, watch your money and you could be a millionaire.’ Did she take my advice or what?”

Sheryl also recalled a former teenaged actress diva’s early troubles and predicted her current, unfortunate circumstances.

“I remember telling people that little Lindsey Lohan was going to jail, and everybody just laughed and laughed,” she remembered. “I told them ‘Y’all can laugh all you want, but somebody better love that girl before she goes to jail.’ It’s a real personal relationship between me and the Diva’s audience and they were like ‘How did you know,’ and I was like ‘How could you not.’ It’s so sad. We’re seeing mental illness right in front of us and people want to laugh and make fun.”

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