Queen Latifah (Owens, Dana Elaine)

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Queen Latifah (Owens, Dana Elaine)

March 18, 1970

Born in East Orange, New Jersey, singer and actress Queen Latifah may be the most influential female MC to date. She chose her namean Arabic word meaning "sensitive and delicate"at age eight. As a teenager, she beatboxed as part of the female group Ladies Fresh. In 1988 she released "Wrath of my Madness," a song touting her strength and ability as an able MC. Her first album, All Hail the Queen, was released in 1989. Her second single, "Ladies First," received national attention for its assertive, woman-centered verses, and her Afrocentric image-filled video exposed her to MTV's wide range of viewers. In 1991 she released Nature of a Sista and left Tommy Boy Records to join Motown.

In 1993 Queen Latifah found her greatest success to date with Black Reign and won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo for "U.N.I.T.Y." The album, dedicated to her late brother, murdered during a car-jacking, achieved gold status and helped secure her acting career. In the same year, she began her role as the straightforward yet humorous "Kadijah" on the FOX network sitcom Living Single. In 1997 she received the Entertainer of the Year Soul Train Lady of Soul award. In 1998 she costarred in the movies Sphere with Dustin Hoffman and Samuel Jackson, Living Out Loud, and The Bone Collector with Denzel Washington. She also released her fourth album, Order in the Court. In 1999with the prompting of Rosie O'Donnellshe began hosting her own talk show. She also released her autobiography, Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman.

Queen Latifah was nominated for a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award in 2003 for her role in the film Chicago. She has won or has been nominated for many other awards for her roles in Chicago and another blockbuster, Bringing Down the House, later starring in the films Taxi (2004) and Beauty Shop (2005). Latifah was honored as the Harvard Foundation's Artist of the Year in 2003.

See also Music in the United States; Rap


Latifah, Queen, with Karen Hunter. Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman. New York: Morrow, 1999.

Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

rachel zellars (2001)
Updated by publisher 2005