26 March 2021-
No, not this one, the other one. Perhaps the even greater one: that is Diana Ross we're talking about here... and she turns 77 today!
So much has been said about the great Diana Ross that we’ll probably not break any new ground here. But that’s OK: stories about legendary performers always bear repeating, especially on the day they are being celebrated. As she turns 77 today, it is fair to say Diana Ross has had one of the most remarkable careers in the history of popular music, despite the fact that she rose to stardom in an era when being black and female made things incredibly harder. The story goes that, in her childhood job at a local department store, she was the only black employee to be visible to customers. Nevertheless, she persisted…
The other and arguably more notorious story was that Diana Ross was not the original leader of The Supremes, the girl group that propelled her and Motown Records to new heights with a string of legendary hits only Michael Jackson could rival (and perhaps Stevie Wonder: let’s not get carried away). No, that honor usually fell to Florence Ballard instead, as the uncharacteristically thin Ross would stand aside and sing along with her beautifully cristalline voice… a voice that Motown founder Berry Gordy came to notice, as well as the woman who produced it: gradually, Ross’s profile within the group increased, to the point that they became known as Diana Ross & The Supremes… before the singer broke out in earnest and started a solo career that was met with the same success and acclaim as her previous band.
Thus came to existence the legend of diva Diana Ross. And by that we mean her spectacular presence, as showcased in 1983’s Motown 25th anniversary concert among many occasions. Not to be confused with the more frequent use of the term these days to qualify talented singers — with an attitude problem. Like many things in Ross’s career, that claim to fame was anything but a given in the early days, but she kept pushing the boundaries of her musical persona and artistry, arguably culminating with the cult 1980 self-titled Diana, in which she embraced the disco-funk era, bringing it to new heights in the process — as well as becoming a bone fide sex symbol. As a 36-year old mother of three (including the great Tracee Ellis Ross, lest we forget). If there is one thing we have to remember from the incredibly journey Ms. Ross went through, it is that greatness cannot be bridled. No matter what, it will always eventually show…
Once again, a very happy birthday to the one and only Diana Ross!