born on 26/3/1944 in Detroit, MI, United States
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown's most successful act, and is to this day the United States' most successful vocal group, as well as one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. Ross' success as lead singer of The Supremes helped to make it possible for future African-American R&B and soul acts to find mainstream success. The group released a record-setting twelve number-one hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100, including "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby Love", "Come See About Me", "Stop! In the Name of Love", "You Can't Hurry Love", "You Keep Me Hangin' On", "Love Child", and "Someday We'll Be Together".
Following her departure from The Supremes in 1970, Ross released her eponymous debut solo album that same year, which contained the Top 20 Pop hit "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and the number-one Pop hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". She later released the album Touch Me in the Morning in 1973; its title track reached number 1, as her second solo hit. That same year, her album Lady Sings the Blues, which was the original soundtrack of her film based on the life of jazz singer Billie Holiday, went to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart, selling more than 300,000 copies within its first 8 days of release. By 1975, the Mahogany soundtrack included her third number-one hit, "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)". Her eponymous 1976 album included her fourth number-one hit, "Love Hangover". In 1979, Ross released the album The Boss. Her 1980 semi-eponymous album Diana reached number 2 on the US Billboard albums chart, and spawned the number-one hit "Upside Down", and the international hit "I'm Coming Out". After leaving Motown, Ross achieved her sixth and final US number-one Pop hit, with the duet "Endless Love", composed for the Brooke Shields film of the same name, by and performed with former Commodores front man, Lionel Richie. Ross and Richie performed the song on the telecast for the 54th Academy Awards, where the song was nominated in the category of "Best Song".
Ross has also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award-nominated performance for her performance in the film Lady Sings the Blues (1972). She also starred in two other films, Mahogany (1975) and The Wiz (1978), later acting in the television films Out of Darkness (1994), for which she also was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and Double Platinum (1999). Ross was named the "Female Entertainer of the Century" by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts, with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. Ross has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are tallied. In 1988, Ross was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of the Supremes, alongside Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. She was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. She is a 12-time Grammy nominee, never earning a competitive honor, but later became the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. In December 2016, Billboard magazine named her the 50th most successful dance artist of all time.
Diane Ross was born at the Hutzel Women's Hospital in Detroit on March 26, 1944. She was the second eldest child for Ernestine (née Moten; January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984) and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007). According to Ross, her mother actually named her "Diane", but, a clerical error resulted in her name being recorded as "Diana" on her birth certificate. She was listed as "Diane" during the first Supremes records, and she introduced herself as "Diane" until early in the group's heyday. Her friends and family still call her "Diane". Ross's grandfather John E. Ross, a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, was born to Washington Ross and Virginia Baytop. Virginia Baytop's mother Francis "Frankey" Baytop was a former slave who had become a midwife after the Civil War.
Ross and her family originally lived on Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, MI, where she was neighbors with singer Smokey Robinson. When Ross was seven, her mother contracted tuberculosis, causing her to become seriously ill. Ross's father moved his children to live with relatives in Bessemer, AL. After her mother recovered, her family moved back to Detroit. On her 14th birthday in 1958, her family relocated to the working-class Brewster-Douglass housing projects settling at St. Antoine Street. Attending Cass Technical High School, a three-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit, Ross began taking classes including design, millinery, pattern marking, and seamstress skills, as she had aspired to become a fashion designer. Ross also took modeling and cosmetology classes at the school and participated in three or four other extracurricular activities. Ross worked at Hudson's Department Store where it was claimed in biographies, she was the first black employee "allowed outside the kitchen". For extra income, she provided hairdressing services for her neighbors. Ross graduated from Cass Tech in January 1962.
The Supremes: 1959–70
At fifteen, Ross joined The Primettes, a sister group of a male vocal group called The Primes, after being brought to the attention of music manager Milton Jenkins by Primes member Paul Williams. Along with Ross, the other members included Florence Ballard the first group member hired by Jenkins, Mary Wilson, and Betty McGlown. Following a talent competition win in Windsor, Ontario, in 1960, The Primettes were invited to audition for Motown records. Ballard, allegedly, declined the offer, due to unsavory rumors of the business practices of Motown's founder, Berry Gordy. Later, following local success via live performances at sock hops, etc., Ross approached former neighbor (and rumored childhood former boyfriend), William "Smokey" Robinson, who insisted that the group audition for him first. Robinson agreed to bring The Primettes to Motown, in exchange for letting he and The Miracles hire The Primettes' guitarist, Marv Tarplin, for an upcoming tour. Tarplin played in Robinson's band(s) for the next 30-plus years. In her autobiography, "Secrets of a Sparrow", Ross wrote that she felt that deal was "a fair trade". The Primettes later auditioned for Motown Records, before various Motown executives. In Berry Gordy's autobiography, To Be Loved, Gordy recalled he was heading to a business meeting when he heard Ross singing "There Goes My Baby" and Ross' voice "stopped me in my tracks". He approached the group and asked them to perform it again but, learning of their ages, Gordy advised them to come back after graduating from high school.
Undeterred, the group went to Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters regularly, offering to provide extra help for Motown's recordings, often including hand claps and background vocals. That year, the group recorded two tracks for Lu Pine Records, with Ross singing lead on one of the tracks. During the group's early years, Ross served as hair stylist, make-up artist, seamstress, and costume designer. In late 1960, having replaced McGlown with Barbara Martin, The Primettes were allowed to record their own songs at Hitsville's studio, many written by "Smokey" Robinson, who, by then, was vice president of Motown ("Your Heart Belongs To Me" and "A Breathtaking Guy"). Gordy, too, composed songs for the trio, including "Buttered Popcorn"(featuring Ballard on lead) and "Let Me Go The Right Way". While these songs were regional hits, they were not nationwide successes. In January 1961, Gordy agreed to sign the group on the condition they change their name. Eventually, Janie Bradford approached Florence Ballard, the only group member at the studio at the time, to pick out a new name for the group. Ballard chose "Supremes", reportedly, because it was the only name on the list that didn't end with "ette". Upon hearing the new name, the other members weren't impressed, with Ross telling Ballard she feared the group would be mistaken for a male vocal group (A male vocal was, indeed, named The Supremes.). Gordy signed the group under their name on January 15, 1962. A year later, Barbara Martin left the group, reducing the quartet to a trio. In late 1963, the group had their first hit with "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes", peaking at #23 on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop chart. At the end of the year, Gordy assigned Ross as the group's lead singer, even though Ballard was usually the lead vocalist.
The group scored their first number-one hit with "Where Did Our Love Go", paving the way for unprecedented success: between August 1964 and May 1967, Ross, Wilson, and Ballard sang on ten number-one hit singles, all of which also made the UK top 40. The group had also become a hit with audiences both domestically and abroad, going on to become Motown's most successful vocal act throughout the sixties. Following significant issues with her comportment, weight, and alcoholism, Florence Ballard was fired from The Supremes by Gordy in July 1967, hiring Cindy Birdsong from Patti LaBelle and the Blue-Bells as Ballard's replacement. Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & The Supremes, making it easier to charge a larger performance fee for a solo star and a backing group, as it did for other renamed Motown groups. Gordy initially considered Ross leaving The Supremes for a solo career in 1966 but changed his mind because the group's success was still too significant for Ross to pursue solo obligations. Ross remained with the Supremes until early 1970.
The group appeared as a trio of singing nuns in a 1968 episode of the popular NBC TV series Tarzan. Between their early 1968 single "Forever Came Today" and their final single with Ross, "Someday We'll Be Together", Ross would be the only Supremes member to be featured on many of their recordings, often accompanied by session singers the Andantes or, as in the case of "Someday, We'll Be Together", Julia and Maxine Waters and Johnny Bristol. Gordy, drove Ross diligently throughout this period and Ross, due to anxiety arising from Gordy's demands of her, began suffering from anorexia nervosa, according to her autobiography, Secrets of a Sparrow. During a 1967 performance in Boston, Massachusetts, Ross collapsed onstage, and had to be hospitalized for exhaustion.
In 1968, Ross began to perform as a solo artist on television specials, including The Supremes' own specials such as TCB and G.I.T. on Broadway, The Dinah Shore Show, and a Bob Hope special, among others. In mid-1969, Gordy decided that Ross would depart the group by the end of that year, and Ross began recording her initial solo work that July. One of the first plans for Ross to establish her own solo career was to publicly introduce a new Motown recording act. Though she herself did not claim their discovery, Motown's publicity department credited Ross with having discovered The Jackson 5. Ross would introduce the group during several public events, including The Hollywood Palace. In November, Ross confirmed a split from the Supremes in Billboard. Ross' presumed first solo recording, "Someday We'll Be Together", was eventually released as a Supremes recording and became the group's final number-one hit on the Hot 100. It was also the final number-one Billboard Hot 100 single of the 1960s. Ross made her final appearance with The Supremes at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 14, 1970.
Early solo career: 1970–81
In May 1970, Ross released her eponymous solo debut, which included her signature songs, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", the latter becoming Ross' first number-one solo single. Follow-up albums, Everything Is Everything and Surrender came out shortly afterwards. In 1971, the ballad "I'm Still Waiting" became her first number-one single in the UK. Later in 1971, Ross starred in her first solo television special, Diana!, which included The Jackson 5. In 1972, the soundtrack to her film debut, Lady Sings the Blues, reached number one on the Billboard 200, selling two million units. In 1973, Ross had her second number-one hit with the ballad "Touch Me in the Morning". Later in the year, Motown issued Diana & Marvin, a duet album with fellow Motown artist Marvin Gaye. The album became an international hit. Touring throughout 1973, Ross became the first entertainer in Japan's history to receive an invitation to the Imperial Palace for a private audience with the Empress Nagako, wife of Emperor Hirohito.
In April 1974, Ross became the first African-American woman to co-host the 46th Academy Awards, with John Huston, Burt Reynolds, and David Niven.
After the release of a modestly successful LP, Last Time I Saw Him, Ross had a third #1 hit with "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)", from her second feature film, Mahogany. A year later, in 1976, Ross released her fourth solo #1 hit, "Love Hangover", a sensual, dramatic mid-tempo song that bursts into an uptempo disco tune. Later that year, Ross launch her "An Evening with Diana Ross. The tour's success led to a two-week stint at Broadway's Palace Theatre and a 90-minute, Emmy-nominated television special of the same name, featuring special make-up effects by Stan Winston, for a scene in which Ross portrayed legendary cabaret artist Josephine Baker and blues singers Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters, and a Special Tony Award.
The albums, Baby It's Me(#18, Billboard's Hot 200 Chart;#7, R&B) and Ross(#49 Pop, #32, R&B), sold modestly. In 1979, Ross released The Boss, continuing her popularity with dance audiences, as the title song became a number-one dance single. On July 16, 1979, Ross guest-hosted an episode of Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, featuring Lynda Carter, George Carlin, and Muhammad Ali as guests. Later that year, Ross hosted the HBO special, Standing Room Only, filmed at Caesar's Palace's Circus Maximus Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, during her "Tour '79" concert tour. This concert special is noted for its opening, during which Ross literally makes her entrance through a movie screen. In November of that year, Ross performed "The Boss" album's title track as a featured artist during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in New York City.
In 1980, Ross released her most successful album to date, Diana. Composed by Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the album included the hits "I'm Coming Out" and "Upside Down", the latter becoming her fifth chart-topping single. Prior to leaving Motown, Ross recorded the duet ballad "Endless Love", with Lionel Richie. The song would become her sixth and final single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Ross began negotiations to leave Motown at the end of 1980. Ross spent over 20 years with the Motown label. She had made millions of dollars for the label and they had made millions of dollars for her. Ross was leaving to accept a $20 million dollar recording contract. Yet, Miss Ross was upset that she was only given $250,000.00USD as severance. RCA Records offered Ross a $20 million, seven-year recording contract, which gave her complete production control of her albums. Allegedly, before signing onto the label, however, Ross asked Berry Gordy if he could match RCA's offer. Gordy stated that doing so was "impossible", Ross signed with RCA, on May 20, 1981. At the time, Ross's was music history's most lucrative recording deal.
Film career: 1972–99
In 1971, Diana Ross began working on her first film, Lady Sings the Blues, which was a loosely based biography on singer Billie Holiday. Despite some criticism of her for taking the role, once the film opened in October 1972, Ross won critical acclaim for her performance in the film. Jazz critic Leonard Feather, a friend of Holiday's, praised Ross for "expertly capturing the essence of Lady Day". Ross's role in the film won her Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. The soundtrack to Lady Sings the Blues became just as successful, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 staying there for two weeks.
Ross's second film, Mahogany, was released in 1975. The film reunited her with Billy Dee Williams, her co-star in Lady Sings the Blues and featured costumes designed by Ross herself. The story of an aspiring fashion designer who becomes a runway model and the toast of the industry, Mahogany was a troubled production from its inception. The film's original director, Tony Richardson, was fired during production, and Berry Gordy assumed the director's chair himself. In addition, Gordy and Ross clashed during filming, with Ross leaving the production before shooting was completed, forcing Gordy to use secretary Edna Anderson as a body double for Ross. While a box-office success, the film was not well received by the critics: Time magazine's review of the film chastised Gordy for "squandering one of America's most natural resources: Diana Ross".
In 1977, Motown acquired the film rights to the Broadway play The Wiz, an African-American reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The film initially was to include the stage actors who had performed on the play, but, producer Rob Cohen could not garner the interest of any major Hollywood film studios. It was not until Ross convinced Cohen to cast her, (instead of Stephanie Mills, who portrayed Dorothy on Broadway) as Dorothy that Universal Pictures agreed to finance the production. This casting decision led to a change in the film's script, in which Dorothy went from a schoolgirl to a schoolteacher. The role of the Scarecrow, also performed by someone else onstage, was eventually given to Ross's former Motown labelmate, Michael Jackson. The film adaptation of The Wiz had been a $24 million production, but upon its October 1978 release, it earned only $21,049,053 at the box office. Though pre-release television broadcast rights had been sold to CBS for over $10 million, the film produced a net loss of $10.4 million for Motown and Universal. At the time, it was the most expensive film musical ever made. The film's failure ended Ross's short career on the big screen and contributed to the Hollywood studios' reluctance to produce the all-black film projects which had become popular during the blaxploitation era of the early to mid-1970s for several years. The Wiz was Ross's final film for Motown.
Ross had success with movie-themed songs. The soundtrack for Lady Sings the Blues peaked at #1 on Billboard's Pop chart, selling over 300,000 copies in its first eight days of release. While her version of Holiday's "Good Morning Heartache" only performed modestly well in early 1973, her recording of "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" gave Ross her third number-one hit, in late 1975. Three years later, Ross and Michael Jackson had a modest dance hit with their recording of "Ease on Down the Road". Their second duet, actually as part of the ensemble of The Wiz, "Brand New Day", found some success overseas. Ross scored a Top 10 hit in late 1980 with the theme song to the 1980 film It's My Turn. The following year, she collaborated with former Commodores singer-songwriter Lionel Richie on the theme song for the film Endless Love. The Academy Award-nominated title single became her final hit on Motown Records and the number-one record of the year. Several years later, in 1988, Ross recorded the theme song to The Land Before Time. "If We Hold on Together" became an international hit, reaching number one in Japan.
In 1993, Ross returned to acting with a dramatic role in the television film, Out of Darkness. Ross won acclaim for her role in the TV movie and earned her third Golden Globe nomination, although she did not win. In 1999, she and Brandy Norwood co-starred in the television movie, Double Platinum, which was aired prior to the release of Ross's album, Every Day Is a New Day.
Continued solo career and development: 1981–99
In October 1981, Ross released her first RCA album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love. The album sold over a million copies and featured hit singles such as her remake of the classic hit of the same name and "Mirror Mirror". At this same approximate time, Ross established her own production company, which she named Anaid Productions (the "Anaid" being "Diana" backwards), and also started investing in real estate, while also touring extensively in the United States and abroad. Before the release of Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Ross hosted her first TV special in four years, featuring Michael Jackson in the special. In early 1982, Ross sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XVI and appeared on the dance show Soul Train. The program devoted a full episode to her and Ross performed several songs from the Why Do Fools Fall in Love album.
In 1982, she followed up the success of Why Do Fools Fall in Love with Silk Electric, which featured the Michael Jackson-written and -produced "Muscles", resulting in another top-ten success for Ross. The album eventually went gold on the strength of that song. In 1983, Ross ventured further out of her earlier soul-based sound for a more pop rock-oriented sound following the release of the Ross album. Though the album featured the hit single, "Pieces of Ice", whose music video garnered heavy rotation on video channel stations, except on MTV, the Ross album failed to generate any more hits and failed to go gold, dropping out of the charts as quickly as it entered. On July 21, 1983, Ross performed a concert in Central Park for a taped Showtime special. Proceeds of the concert would be donated to build a playground in the singer's name. Midway through the beginning of the show, a torrential downpour occurred. Ross tried to keep on performing, but the severe weather required that the show be stopped. Ross urged the large crowd to exit the venue safely, promising to perform the next day.
The second concert held the very next day was without rain. The funds for the playground were to be derived from sales of different items at the concert; however, all profits earned from the first concert were spent on the second. When the mainstream media discovered the exorbitant costs of the two concerts, Ross faced criticism and poor publicity. Although her representatives originally refused to pay anything for the proposed playground, Ross herself later paid, out of pocket, the $150,000 required to build the park. The Diana Ross Playground was finally built three years later.
In 1982, Ross recruited and hired Ms Gail Davis to work for her, specifically because she had an untarnished reputation for integrity. Ms Davis worked for Ms Ross from Jan - Nov ' 82 before quitting. Ms. Davis never mentioned publicly why she quit, though it has since been alleged by others that Ms Davis did not respect Miss Ross or her ethics and integrity. The following year, Ms. Ross released and distributed a letter listing names of people who no longer work for her and that she would not recommend ... The letter made it appear that all those people had been fired for cause including Ms Davis. Ms. Davis sued her for two million dollars. The two wound up settling out of court three years later; when Ms Ross paid Ms Davis a very large but undisclosed sum of money. [Davis vs. Ross]
Ms Davis simply resigned from working for Miss Ross, but there was no pending law suit. Only when Ms Ross pubplicly insult her, did Ms Davis bring a suit. Rather than apologize and admit she was wrong, and that she had made a mistake, Miss Ross attempted to pursue and win a law suit even though she knew that it was Ms Davis who was telling the truth.
In 1984, Ross released Swept Away. This featured a duet with Julio Iglesias, "All of You", which was featured on both the albums they had then released—his 1100 Bel Air Place as well as her Swept Away. It became international hit, as did the ballad "Missing You", which was a tribute to Marvin Gaye, who had died earlier that year after the moving poignant music video made a rare premiere on that year's American Music Awards show. Swept Away proved to be a success garnering gold level sales.
Her 1985 album, Eaten Alive, found major success overseas with the title track and "Chain Reaction", although neither of the songs became the best-sellers she was once accustomed to in America. Both songs had strong music videos that propelled the tracks to success. The Eaten Alive video was patterned after the 1960s horror film, The Island of Dr. Moreau while the "Chain Reaction" music video saluted the 1960s American Bandstand. "Experience", the third international single's video reignited the "Eaten Alive" romantic storyline with Diana and American actor, Joseph Gian. The track, Eaten Alive, a collaboration with Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson, became a top 20 hit internationally. The Barry Gibb-produced album garnered an international number one in "Chain Reaction" and a Top 20 selling album.
Earlier in 1985, she had appeared as part of USA for Africa on the '"We Are the World"' charity single, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Ross's 1987 follow-up to Eaten Alive, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, found less success than the prior album. However, the accompanying acclaimed television special was nominated for several Emmys (4).
In 1988, Ross chose to not renew her RCA contract. Around this same time, Ross had been in talks with her former mentor Berry Gordy to return to Motown. When she learned of Gordy's plans to sell Motown, Ross tried advising him against the decision though he sold it to MCA Records in 1988. (The first and only single, "If We Hold on Together", theme song from the Steven Spielberg animated film, The Land Before Time, became a huge number-one international single in Japan and currently ranks as the #24th Best Selling International Single of All Time in Japan). Following this decision, Gordy offered Ross a new contract to return to Motown with the condition that she have shares in the company as a part-owner. Ross accepted the offer.
Despite its heavy promotion, Diana's next album, Workin' Overtime, was a critical and commercial failure. Subsequent follow-ups such as The Force Behind the Power (1991), Take Me Higher (1995), and Every Day Is a New Day (1999) produced similarly disappointing sales. Ross had more success overseas with the albums than she did in America.
In 1991, Ross became one of the few American artists to have headlined the annual Royal Variety Performance, when she performed a selection of her UK hits in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London.
"The Force Behind the Power" sparked an international comeback of sorts when the album went double platinum in the UK. led by the No. 2 UK hit single "When You Tell Me That You Love Me". Ross would see the album perform successfully across Europe to Japan as "The Force Behind the Power" went gold there. That single would be a lucky charm when a duet version with Irish group, Westlife also hit No. 2 in the UK in 2005. The album produced an astounding 9 singles across international territories, including another Top 10, "One Shining Moment".
Ross had success in the UK through 1994, when "One Woman: The Ultimate Collection", a career retrospective compilation, would become number one in the UK, selling quadruple platinum in the UK. That album did well across Europe and in the English-speaking world. The retrospective was EMI's alternative to Motown's box set Forever Diana: Musical Memoirs. Ross's music sold well in international markets from 1991 to 1994.
Ross performed during the Opening Ceremony of the 1994 FIFA World Cup held in Chicago and during the pre-match entertainment of the 1995 Rugby League World Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
On January 28, 1996, she performed the Halftime Show at Super Bowl XXX Steeler's Cowboy's. She is believed to have sung the song, "Reach out and touch," live. Because of a lack of back up singers, it is believed that some or most of the performance was lip synced. One song was "I will survive" by Donna Summers. She exited the stage via helicopter. She was still able to sing and project her voice as the helicopter flew away. This is considered by many to be a miracle for 1996.
In 1999, she was named the most successful female singer in the history of the United Kingdom charts, based upon a tally of her career hits. Madonna would eventually succeed Ross as the most successful female artist in the UK. Later that year, Ross presented at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards in September of the year and shocked the audience by touching rapper Lil' Kim's exposed breast, pasty-covered nipple, amazed at the young rapper's brashness.
Supremes reunions, Return to Love, 2002 solo tour
Ross reunited with Mary Wilson first in 1976 to attend the funeral service of Florence Ballard, who had died in February of that year. In March 1983, Ross agreed to reunite with Wilson and Cindy Birdsong for the television special "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever". Wilson's arrival at the Pasadena Civic auditorium was late due to a delayed flight. The Supremes did not rehearse their performance for that evening. A medley of hits was eliminated by request of Ross. Before the special was taped later that evening, Wilson allegedly planned with Birdsong to take a step forward every time Ross did the same. This frustrated Ross, causing her to push Wilson's shoulder. Ross momentarily forgot the lyrics to "Someday We'll Be Together". Wilson began singing lead. Later, Wilson was not aware of the script set by producer Suzanne DePasse, in which Ross was to introduce Berry Gordy. Wilson did so, at which point Ross physically pushed down Wilson's hand-held microphone, stating: "It's been taken care of." Ross, then, re-introduced Gordy. These incidents were excised from the final edit of the taped special, but still made their way into the news media; People magazine reported that "Ross [did] some elbowing to get Wilson out of the spotlight."
In 1999, Ross and mega-tour promoter SFX (which later became LiveNation) began negotiations regarding a Diana Ross tour which would include a Supremes segment. Due to public response, the promoters floated the idea of a Supremes Tour instead. Some fans suggested a Supremes tour in which all living former Supremes would participate. Neither Jean Terrell nor late 1970s member Susaye Greene chose to participate. Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne were then touring as members of the Former Ladies of the Supremes. Mary Wilson agreed to begin negotiations, as did Cindy Birdsong. Negotiations, however, to have the 1967–70 lineup of the group perform together for the first time in a concert tour since 1970 failed when Wilson and SFX could not come to terms. SFX hired Payne and Laurence to sing with Ross on the tour. Ross, Payne, and Laurence had never performed together during their Supremes' tenures. Laurence and Payne would later say they got on well with Ross. The Return to Love tour launched in June 2000, to a capacity audience in Philadelphia. Diana Ross had just appeared on the Oprah Show, and then the whole group sang. It was very apparent that this group had little resemblance to the old Diana Ross and the Supremes. Instead of driving ticket sales, it hurt them. The reunion tour, never made it through the first half due to poor reviews and a public lack of ticket sales.
In 2002, Ross entered rehabilitation in May, launched and cancelled a North America solo tour, and was arrested for a DUI in December. Ross cancelled the remaining dates of her summer concert tour of the United States and Canada two months after entering drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Promises, in Malibu, California in May to "clear up some personal issues". No reason was given for halting the 10-city North American tour, which began in April at New York's Westbury Music Fair. The 58-year-old singer performed gigs in Boston, Massachusetts, and Ontario, Canada, before her spokeswoman confirmed reports she had cancelled the rest of the dates.
Later career: 2004–present
In 2002, after spending two years away from the spotlight and after a stint in jail for committing a DUI, Ross returned to live touring, first in Europe and then in the United States all within the same year. In 2005, she participated in Rod Stewart's Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV recording a duet version of the Gershwin standard, "I've Got a Crush on You". The song was released as promotion for the album and later reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart, marking her first Billboard chart entry since 2000. Ross was featured in another hit duet, this time with Westlife, on a cover of Ross's 1991 hit "When You Tell Me You Love Me", repeating the original recording's chart success, garnering a number 2 UK Billboard hit (number 1 in Ireland).
In June 2006, Universal released Ross's shelved 1972 Blue album. It peaked at number 2 on Billboard's jazz albums chart. Later in 2006, Ross released her first studio album in seven years with I Love You. It would be released on EMI/Manhattan Records in the United States in January 2007. EMI Inside later reported the album had sold more than 622,000 copies worldwide. Ross later ventured on a world tour to promote I Love You, which garnered rave reviews. In 2007, she was honored twice, first with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards, and later as one of the honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors.
In January 2008, at Jamaica's Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, Ross's performance was booed by audience members seated near the rear of the venue who were annoyed by her decision to turn off the large video screens adjacent to the stage. Later, the entire audience booed the festival's organizers, when Ross announced that the shortening of her set, in order to accommodate the schedule of r&b singer, Mary J. Blige, who arrived late and insisted upon being allowed to leave the festival earlier than previously planned. Ross returned to the festival in 2009, garnering positive reviews.
In 2010, Ross embarked on her first headlining tour in three years titled the More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour. Dedicated to the memory of her late friend Michael Jackson, the concert tour received positive reviews, nationwide.
In February 2012, Ross received her first ever Grammy Award, for Lifetime Achievement, and announced the nominees for the Album of the Year. In May, a DVD of her Central Park concert performances, For One & For All, was released and featured commentary from Steve Binder, who directed the special. On November 6, 2012, Ross performed for a crowd in India for Naomi Campbell's then billionaire boyfriend, Vladimir Doronin, at his 50th birthday, earning $500,000 for the performance. Following her final stage exit, Ross tripped and broke her ankle. A month later, on December 9, she performed as the marquee and headlining performer at the White House-hosted Christmas in Washington concert, where she performed(in a leg cast)before President Barack Obama, America's first African-American president. The event was later broadcast as an annual special on TNT.
Ross continues to tour, completing a 2013 South American tour with concerts in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. And a multi-city US late summer tour(Launched: August 2, in Los Angeles – September 13, in Dallas).
On July 3, 2014, Ross was awarded the Ella Fitzgerald Award for "her extraordinary contribution to contemporary jazz vocals", at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.
On November 20, 2014, Ross presented for the very first time the Dick Clark Award for Excellence to Taylor Swift at the American Music Awards.
In 2015, Ross appeared in the video for the song "How To Live Alone" performed by her son Evan Ross.
On April 1, 2015, Ross began the first of nine performances as a part of her mini-residency, The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade at The Venetian Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On November 27, 2015, Motown Records/Universal released the album Sings Songs From The Wiz recorded in 1978. The album features Ross's versions of songs from the film version of the musical The Wiz, in which she starred along with Michael Jackson.
In February 2016, Ross resumed her In the Name of Love Tour which began in 2013.
On 22 November 2016, Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Relationships and family
Ross has been married twice and has five children.
In 1965, Ross became romantically involved with Motown CEO Berry Gordy. The relationship lasted several years, resulting in the birth of Ross's eldest child, Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein, in August 1971. Two months into her pregnancy with Rhonda, in January 1971, Ross married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein, who chose to raise Rhonda as his own daughter, despite knowing her true parentage along with Gordy and Ross. Rhonda actually didn’t know that her father was Berry Gordy until she was 13 years old. It was easy to build a relationship between Gordy and Rhonda because Gordy was always in the Ross family. Rhonda used to call Berry Gordy Uncle before she found out Gordy was her father.
With Silberstein, Ross has two additional daughters, Tracee Joy and Chudney Lane Silberstein, born in 1972 and 1975 respectively. Ross and Silberstein divorced in 1977, and Ross moved to New York City in the early 1980s, after living in Los Angeles since Motown relocated to the area in the early 1970s.
Ross met her second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr. in 1985 and married him the following year, she became stepmother to his three elder children; Katinka, Christoffer, and folk singer Leona Naess. They have two sons together: Ross Arne (born in 1987) and Evan Olav (born in 1988). Ross and Næss divorced in 2000. Ross considers Næss the love of her life. Næss was later killed in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004.
Ross remains close with her three ex-stepchildren, Leona, Katinka, and Christoffer despite the divorce and Næss's death.
Ross has four grandchildren: grandsons Raif-Henok (born in 2009 to Ross's daughter Rhonda) and Leif (born on June 5, 2016, to Ross's son Ross Næss) and granddaughters Callaway Lane (born in 2012 to Ross's daughter Chudney) and Jagger Snow (born in 2015 to Ross's son Evan). In 2014, singer Ashlee Simpson became Ross's daughter-in-law, through her marriage to Ross's son Evan.
She and Berry Gordy, father of her oldest daughter Rhonda, remain close friends to this day.
Diana Ross is a Baptist. She used to sing in a church, where she gained her initial musical experience. Her mother Ernestine's father, Reverend William Moten, served as a pastor in the Bessemer Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama.
Diana Ross was arrested for DUI on December 30, 2002, in Tucson, Arizona, while undergoing substance abuse treatment at a local rehabilitation facility. She later served a two-day sentence near her Connecticut estate.
Ross has influenced many artists including Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, The Ting Tings, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Solange, Janet Jackson, Ashley Tisdale, Katy Perry, Kelly Key, Fergie, Victoria Justice, Jennifer Lopez, Leona Lewis, The Braxtons, and Nicole Scherzinger among others. As a member of the Supremes, Ross helped influence other African-American women who have succeeded the Supremes in popular music, such as the Three Degrees, the Emotions, and Destiny's Child.
Various works have been inspired by Ross's career and life. The character of Deena Jones in Dreamgirls was inspired by Ross.
Several of Ross's songs has been covered and sampled. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" has been featured in the film Chicken Little. The song has also been covered live and on albums by Jennifer Lopez, Amy Winehouse. "Love Hangover" was sampled in Monica's 1998 number 1 "The First Night" as well as being sampled by Will Smith, Master P (who also sampled "Missing You"), Heavy D and Bone Thugs N Harmony. "It's My House" has been referenced in music by Snoop Dogg and MC Hammer. "Upside Down" has been covered and sampled by Salt-n-Pepa, Sean Combs, Kid Rock, Missy Elliott and MC Lyte. "I'm Coming Out" has been sampled in music recorded by The Notorious B.I.G. (who also sampled "Missing You"), Keyshia Cole featuring Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande. "Endless Love" was recorded by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey, and Ross's partner Lionel Richie later recorded a version with Shania Twain singing Ross's part. "Muscles" was sampled by Lil' Kim and Young Jeezy. "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" was recorded as a duet with Dolly Parton and Julio Iglesias. "You Can't Hurry Love" was a number one hit [UK] for Phil Collins in 1983.
Motown: The Musical is a Broadway musical that launched on April 14, 2013. It is the story of Berry Gordy's creation of Motown Records and his romance with Diana Ross.
As a member of the Supremes, her songs "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "You Can't Hurry Love" are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994, and entered into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed the group at number 96 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
As lead singer of the Supremes and as a solo artist, Ross has earned 18 number-one singles (12 as lead singer of the Supremes and 6 as a solo artist). While Mariah Carey is the only solo female artist to have 18 number-one U.S. singles, Ms. Ross is the only artist to have number one singles as a solo artist; as the other half of a duet (Lionel Richie); as a member of a trio (the Supremes); and, as an ensemble member (We are the World-USA for Africa). Ross was featured on the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 number-one hit, "Mo Money Mo Problems" as her voice from her 1980 hit, "I'm Coming Out", was sampled for the song. Billboard magazine named Ross the "female entertainer of the century" in 1976. In 1993, she earned a Guinness World Record, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any other female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles. Ross is also one of the few recording artists to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one as a solo artist and the other as a member of the Supremes. After her 1983 concert in Central Park, Diana Ross Playground was named in her honor with a groundbreaking opening ceremony in 1986.
Ross was fallaciously given credit for the discovery of The Jackson 5. Her "discovery" was simply part of Motown's marketing and promotions plan for the Jackson 5. Consequently, their debut album was titled Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.
In 2006, Diana was one of 25 African American women saluted at Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball, a three-day celebration, honoring their contributions to art, entertainment, and civil rights.
Awards and nominations
On November 16, 2016, Ross was announced as one of the 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Top Ten Singles
The following singles reached the Top Ten on the US or UK Pop Singles Charts:
|Year||Song title||Peak chart positions|
|1970||"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"||1||1||6|
|"I'm Still Waiting"||63||40||1|
|1973||"Touch Me in the Morning"||1||5||9|
|1974||"All of My Life"||–||–||9|
|"You Are Everything" (with Marvin Gaye)||–||–||5|
|1975||"Do You Know Where You're Going To"||1||14||5|
|"I'm Coming Out"||5||6||13|
|"My Old Piano"||109||–||5|
|"It's My Turn"||9||14||16|
|1981||"Endless Love" (with Lionel Richie)||1||1||7|
|"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"||7||6||4|
|"Work That Body"||44||34||7|
|1991||"When You Tell Me That You Love Me"||–||37||2|
|1992||"One Shining Moment"||–||–||10|
|1999||"Not Over You Yet"||–||–||9|
|2005||"When You Tell Me That You Love Me" (with Westlife)||–||–||2|
- Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
- Mahogany (1975)
- The Wiz (1978)
- Out of Darkness * (1994)
- Double Platinum * (1999)
(* = made directly for television)
- T.A.M.I. Show (with The Supremes) (1964)
- Tarzan (with The Supremes) (1968)
- TCB (with The Supremes) (1968)
- The Dinah Shore Special: Like Hep (with Dinah Shore and Lucille Ball) (1969)
- G.I.T. on Broadway (with the Supremes and the Temptations) (1969)
- Diana! (1971)
- The Jackson 5ive (1971)
- Make Room for Granddaddy (1971)
- Here I Am: An Evening with Diana Ross (1977)
- The Muppet Show (1977)
- Standing Room Only (HBO) (1980)
- Diana! (TV Special) (1981)
- Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983)
- Diana Ross: Live in Central Park/For One and For All (Showtime) (1983)
- Diana Ross: Red Hot Rhythm and Blues (1987)
- Diana Ross: Workin' Overtime HBO: World Stage (1989)
- Diana Ross Live! The Lady Sings... Jazz & Blues: Stolen Moments (1992)
- Christmas in Vienna (1992)
- BET Walk of Fame (1993)
- Always is Forever: 30th Anniversary (1993)
- 1994 FIFA World Cup (1994)
- Super Bowl XXX (1996)
- Super Concert of the Century (1997)
- An Audience with Diana Ross (1999)
- VH1 Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross (2000)
- The Making and Meaning of We Are Family (documentary) (2002)
- Tsunami Aid (2005)
- BET Awards 2007 (2007)
- Kennedy Center Honors (2007)
- Nobel Peace Prize Concert (2008)
- The Oprah Winfrey Show: Farewell and Salute (2011)
- Christmas in Washington (2012)
- The Voice (2014)
- An Evening with Diana Ross (1976)
- Diana Ross World Tour (1970–75)
- An Evening with Diana Ross (1976–78)
- Diana Ross Tour (1978–81)
- Diana Ross on Tour (1982)
- Up Front Tour (1983)
- Missing You Tour (1984)
- Eaten Alive Tour (1985–88)
- Workin' Overtime World Tour (1989)
- Here & Now Tour (1991–92)
- Forever Diana! World Tour (1993–94)
- Take Me Higher Tour (1995–96)
- Voice of Love Tour (1997–98)
- Always is Forever Tour (1999)
- Live Love Tour (2004)
- This is It Tour (2004)
- I Love You Tour (2006–08)
- More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour (2010–11)
- In the Name of Love Tour (2013–17)
- Superconcert of the Century (1997) (with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras)
- Return to Love Tour (2000) (with former members of The Supremes)
- Residency shows
- The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade (2015, 2017)
- All the Best Times (2016)
- Endless Memories (2017)
- Ross, Diana (October 1993). Secrets of a Sparrow. Random House. ISBN 0-679-42874-7.
- Ross, Diana (March 1995). When Your Dream.
- Ross, Diana; Rosanne Shelnutt (ed.) (December 2002). Diana Ross: Going Back. New York: Universe. ISBN 0-7893-0797-9. (A scrapbook-style collection of photographs)
- List of best-selling music artists
- List of number-one hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one in the United States
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
- "Diana Ross Was Born on March 26, 1944 | Music Trivia". Musicbyday.com. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- Whitburn, Joel, The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, p. 207.
- Wilson, Mary (1986). Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme. Cooper Square Press. pp. 169–70. ISBN 0-8154-1000-X.
- George, Nelson (1985). Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. St. Martin's Press. pp. 80–81, 87. ISBN 0-312-01109-1.
- "Diana Ross Was Born on March 26, 1944 | Music Trivia web". blackhistory.com. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- "1962 Cass Technical Yearbook". classmates.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- Taraborelli 2008, p. 64.
- Diana Ross interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
- Benjaminson, Peter. The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, November 2007. 75–79. ISBN 1-55652-705-5
- George, Nelson (2007). Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 159–60, 183–88. ISBN 978-0-252-07498-1.
- Jet 1973, p. 60.
- Posner, Gerald. Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power, p. 286.
- Sharp, Kathleen (2003). Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and Their Entertainment Empire. Carroll & Graf Publishers. pp. 357–58. ISBN 0-7867-1220-1.
- Harpole, Charles (2003). History of the American Cinema. Simon and Schuster. pp. 64, 65, 219, 220, 290. ISBN 0-684-80463-8.
- Adrahtas, Thomas (2006). A Lifetime to Get Here: Diana Ross: The American Dreamgirl. AuthorHouse. pp. 163–67. ISBN 1-4259-7140-7.
- Skow, John (October 30, 1978). "Nowhere Over the Rainbow". TIME. Time Warner. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
- Moon, Spencer; George Hill (1997). Reel Black Talk: A Sourcebook of 50 American Filmmakers. Greenwood Press. xii. ISBN 0-313-29830-0.
- Benshoff, Harry M.; Sean Griffin (2004). America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies. Blackwell Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 0-631-22583-8.
- George, Nelson (1985). Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. St. Martin's Press. p. 193.
- Anderson, Susan Heller and Deirdre Carmody (September 12, 1986). "NEW YORK DAY BY DAY; Start at Ross Playground". New York Times.
- BPI 1991-UK, Music Week.
- Bloomfield, Craig. "Grace Jones and FIFA, Diana Ross at USA 94 and six of the best unlikely entertainers at sport". talksport.com. talkSPORT. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- "Diana Ross and Lil' Kim's wild VMA moment", Lisa Costantini, August 21, 2002, Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
- Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl, My Life As A Supreme.
- Wilson, Mary, Dreamgirl, My Life As A Supreme; Taraborrelli, Randy, Call Her Miss Ross: The Unauthorized Biography of Diana Ross; George, Nelson Where Did Our Love Go?, The Rise & Fall of Motown.
- Posner, Gerald. Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power, pp. 308–09, and Taraborrelli, Randy, The Unauthorized Biography of Diana Ross.
- Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme., pp. 1–5. Taken from Wilson, Mary and Romanowski, Patricia (1986, 1990, 2000). Dreamgirl & Supreme Faith: My Life as a Supreme. New York: Cooper Square Publishers. ISBN 0-8154-1000-X.
- Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl & Supreme Faith: My Life as a Supreme. New York: Cooper Square Publishers. ISBN 0-8154-1000-X.
- Cohen, Jonathan (December 13, 2006). "New Diana Ross Album To Get U.S. Release". Billboard.
- "Confirmed! Diana Ross returns to Las Vegas with start of mini-residency". Las Vegas Sun News. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- Weatherfordlas, Mike (January 26, 2015). "Diana Ross doing nine-show stretch at Venetian". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- Maya Rhodan (November 22, 2016). "President Obama Awards 21 Presidential Medals of Freedom". Time.com. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- "LISTEN: 15 songs showcasing Diana Ross as she celebrates her 70th". Globalnews.ca. March 26, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- Windeler, Robert (January 26, 1976). "Mr. & Mrs. Diana Ross?". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- McMurran, Kristin (January 15, 1979). "Showbiz Wiz". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- Emma Jones (June 1, 2015). "Gene Simmons: 'I was a horny 14-year-old boy in the body of a man'". Irish Mirror. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Stewart, Allison (November 16, 2004). "A 'suburban mom': Diana Ross at 60". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- "Supreme Icon Diana Ross, Her 5 Children and Show-Stopping Performance". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Season 25. Episode 93. 25 February 2011.
- "Ross' ex-husband killed in fall". BBC. January 14, 2004. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- "Meet Diana Ross' Just-Born Granddaughter Callaway Lane!". Us Weekly. September 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- "Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson Welcome Daughter Jagger Snow". People. July 31, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
- McNiece, Mia (August 31, 2014). "Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross Are Married". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- Diana Ross: An Unauthorized Biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli, p. 3
- Issues in Feminist Film Criticism by Patricia Erens, p. 206
- Diana Ross: An Unauthorized Biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli, p. 10
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- J. Randy Taraborrelli (July 3, 2009). "'Michael was obsessed with Diana Ross, but his mother feared she would corrupt him...'". Mail Online. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- "Beyoncé Influences". Shmoop.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
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- "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll (by artist)". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2007. Retrieved on April 27, 2007. Archived May 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone, Issue 946, March 24, 2004. Retrieved on July 4, 2004.
- "These Are The 21 People Receiving The Nation's Highest Civilian Honor". npr.org. November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
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