If everything had unfolded according to plan, Miki Howard would've become one of the reigning queens of R&B, a diva atop a heap of divas, a singer who could make an audience whiskey-drunk just by bending notes into dizzying swirls and curves. That, of course, is the way things should have been, if talent and astounding pipes counted for anything. In the end, Howard disappeared while a slew of other crowned R&B Titans scratched her name from the diva list and filled in their own. If there's any doubt that she deserved more than she was granted, the proof is in Howard's hugely successful '80s work. Jazz standards were lovingly handled, R&B romanticism was smoothed over by un-rippled vocals, and her Dance Pop -- though no match for the snail-paced love songs -- was up to par with contemporaries who outlasted her. Record label problems left Howard at the back of the star-studded bus, but she put out some of the most vocally potent soul in recent memory.