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Queen Latifah Biography

Home > Music > Q > Queen Latifah > Biography

Birth Name: Dana Elaine Owens
Born: 1970/03/18
Birth Place: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Years Active: 1988–present
Genres: R&B, Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop

Queen Latifah (born Dana Elaine Owens, March 18, 1970) is an American singer, rapper, and actress. Her work in music, film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination. Latifah was born and raised primarily in East Orange, New Jersey. She found her stage name, “Latifah” meaning “delicate” and “very kind” in Arabic, in a Muslim book of names when she was eight years old.

She started beatboxing for the hip hop group Ladies Fresh and was one of the members of the original version of the Flavor Unit, which, at that time, was a crew of MCs grouped around producer DJ Mark the 45 King, who made a demo recording of Queen Latifah's rap “Princess of the Posse.” He gave the recording to Fab 5 Freddy, the host of “Yo! MTV Raps.” The song got the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who signed Latifah and in 1988 issued her first single, “Wrath of My Madness.”

Freddy helped Latifah sign with Tommy Boy Records, which released Latifah's first album “All Hail the Queen” in 1989, when she was 19 years old. “Nature of a Sista” followed in 1991, marking her final album on Tommy Boy Records.

In 1993 Latifah’s “Black Reign” album became a success, peaking at #60 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and certifiing gold by the RIAA. The album also peaked at #15 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Its single, “U.N.I.T.Y.” reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and was a Top 10 hit on the R&B chart.

In 1998 she released her fourth hip-hop album “Order in the Court,” which, like her previous album, was released by Motown Records. After “Order in the Court,” Latifah shifted primarily to singing soul music and jazz standards, which she had used sparingly in her previous hip-hop-oriented records.

In 2004, she released the soul/jazz standards “The Dana Owens Album.” Certifying gold, the album peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #11 on the R&B Albums chart.

In 2007, Latifah released an album titled “Trav'lin' Light.” Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Joe Sample, George Duke, Christian McBride, and Stevie Wonder made guest appearances. It was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category. Her most successful album to date, “Trav'lin' Light” was certified platinum and reached #6 on the R&B Albums chart and #11 on the Billboard 200. She issued “Persona” in 2009, reaching the Top 25 of the Billboard 200 and the Top 5 on the R&B chart.