With the possible exception of Will Smith, there's never been a hip-hop star who has become so roundly popular as Queen Latifah.
And, unlike Smith -- remember when he was the Fresh Prince? -- Queen Latifah has done it without abandoning her hip-hop moniker and reverting to her colorless birth name, Dana Owens.
It's been about 25 years since she first came into the public eye as one of the very first female hip-hop stars, and since then she's turned to singing pop, soul and jazz, acting in major films, and even producing commercials. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in "Chicago." She's won a Grammy for best solo rap album, and she's been nominated for best traditional ppp album and best jazz vocal album. Oh, and along the way she was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
If you're wondering why we're telling you all this, it's because Queen Latifah is coming to Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Saturday night.
There's no word on exactly what kind of music she'll be performing, so expect a healthy mix of hip-hop, pop, soul and jazz. Queen Latifah's probably the only performer in the world who might be able to pull that off.
Details: 8 p.m. March 30, Van Wezel performing Arts center, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $30-$110. Information: 941-953-3368 or vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear