Diana Ross

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For the English children's author, see Diana Ross (author).
Diana Ross
Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2008 Diana Ross4.jpg
Diana Ross performing at the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo
Born Diana Ernestine Earle Ross
(1944-03-26) March 26, 1944 (age 71)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Singer, actress, record producer
Years active 1959–present
Net worth Increase US$250 million (2013)
Spouse(s) Robert Silberstein (m. 1971–77)
Arne Næss, Jr. (m. 1986–2000)
Children Rhonda Ross Kendrick
Tracee Ellis Ross
Chudney Ross
Ross Næss
Evan Ross
Musical career
Genres R&B, soul, disco, jazz, pop, dance, adult contemporary
Instruments Vocals
Labels Lu Pine, Motown, RCA, EMI
Associated acts The Primettes, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, actress, record producer and an occasional songwriter. Born and raised in Detroit, she rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown's most successful act and is to this day America's most successful vocal group as well as one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. As part of the Supremes, Ross most notably rivaled the career of the Beatles in worldwide popularity, and her success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul acts to find mainstream success. The group set a record scoring twelve number-one hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

Following her departure from the Supremes in 1970, Ross released her debut solo album, Diana Ross, which contained the hits "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and the #1 hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". She released the album Touch Me in the Morning in 1973. Its title track reached #1 becoming her second solo hit. By 1975, the Mahogany soundtrack included her 3rd number-one hit "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)". Her 1976 album Diana Ross included her fourth #1 hit "Love Hangover". In 1979, Ross released her first gold certified album The Boss. Her 1980 album Diana which reached #2 on the Billboard albums chart and spawned the #1 hit "Upside Down" and the international hit "I'm Coming Out". After leaving Motown, Ross achieved her sixth and final #1 hit with the duet "Endless Love".

Ross also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominated performance in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). She also starred in two other feature films, Mahogany (1975) and the cult classic The Wiz (1978); later acting included roles in the television films Out of Darkness (1994) and Double Platinum (1999).

Beside ventures in Broadway, 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 Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. She is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Early life[edit]

The Frederick Douglass housing project in Detroit, where Diana spent her teenage years.

Diana Ross was born at Hutzel Women's Hospital in Detroit on March 26, 1944.[1][2] The second-eldest child of Ernestine (née Moten; January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984), a schoolteacher, and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007), a former Army soldier, Ross would later say that she did not see much of her father until he had returned from service following World War II. Much has been made of whether her first name ends in an "a" or an "e". 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 always went by "Diane" at home and at school. Her high school yearbook listed her as "Diana" and as early as 1963, when the Supremes released their first album, she was listed in the liner notes as "Diana". At the Supremes' first Copacabana engagement in 1965, she introduced herself to the audience as "Diane", but later that year she started introducing herself as "Diana", but all her intimates still call her "Diane".[3][4]

Ross' grandfather John E. Ross, a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, was born to Washington Ross and Virginia Baytop. The relatives of the Ross family of Gloucester County were considered mulatto for many generations, which suggests some European ancestry.[citation needed] 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 at Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, MI, where she was neighbors with singer Smokey Robinson, who first met Ross when she was eight. On Diana's 14th birthday in 1958, the Ross family relocated to the Brewster-Douglass housing projects settling at St. Antoine Street. Unlike what would later be written about in Supremes and Diana Ross biographies, Ross and her family grew up comfortably among the street's working-class residents. By Ross' teenage years, she had aspirations of being a fashion designer, studying design, millinery, pattern-making and seamstress skills while attending Cass Technical High School,[5] a four-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit. Ross joined the swim team, participated in 3–4 other extracurricular activities (according to their listing in her graduation photo) and took modeling and cosmetology classes, via a loan provided by former boyfriend, William "Smokey Boyo" Robinson. Ross also worked at Hudson's Department Store where, it was claimed in biographies, she was the first black employee "allowed outside the kitchen".[6] For extra income, she provided hairdressing services for her neighbors. Ross graduated from Cass Tech in January 1962, one semester earlier than her classmates.


The Supremes: 1959–1970[edit]

Main article: The Supremes
Diana Ross (far right) performing with the Supremes as lead singer

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, Mary Wilson and Betty McGlown. After winning a talent contest in Windsor, Ontario, Canada after Ross led on the song, "There Goes My Baby", they auditioned for Motown Records. In 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 then approached the group and asked them to perform it again. Learning of their ages, Gordy advised them to come back after graduation.[7]

Undeterred, Ross brought the quartet to Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters daily, 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 songs by themselves at Hitsville's studio. In January 1961, Gordy agreed to sign the group on the condition they change their name. Eventually Janie Bradford had Florence Ballard pick out one of three names, to which Ballard went with "Supremes". Upon hearing of 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. Gordy signed the group under that name on January 15. A year later, Barbara Martin left the group, reducing the quartet to a trio. The group struggled for two years recording for Motown and were often referred to as the "no-hit Supremes". In late 1963, the group had their first hit with "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes". At the end of the year, Gordy assigned Ross as the group's lead singer, as the group originally didn't have a designated 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 forty.[7] 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. Simultaneously, Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, made 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 thought of Ross leaving the Supremes for a solo career in 1966, changing his mind when he figured the group's success was still too significant for Ross to pursue solo obligations. Ross would remain with the group until early 1970.

Diana Ross, the lead singer of the Supremes, performing "No Matter What Sign You Are", a 1969 song released by Motown.

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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, accompanied by session singers the Andantes.[8] Gordy worked 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.

In 1968, Ross started performing 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 pinned Ross as having discovered the Jackson 5. Ross would introduce the group during several public events, including The Hollywood Palace.[9] 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: 1970–1981[edit]

Ross's debut solo album, Diana Ross, on Motown Records released in 1970.

Signing a solo contract with Motown in March 1970, Ross released her eponymous solo debut, which included the hit singles, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", the latter of which hit number one on the pop chart and resulted in Ross' first Grammy Award nomination, also becoming an international hit. Ross would struggle with her second album, Everything Is Everything, in the U.S., though its track, "I'm Still Waiting", became a number-one hit in the UK the following year. Ross' third album, Surrender, was better received and included the top 20 single, "Remember Me" and her modestly successful version of "Reach Out, I'll Be There", which like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" before it, was produced in a dramatic fashion by Ashford & Simpson. In 1971, Ross starred in her first TV special, Diana! In 1972, her soundtrack to her film debut, Lady Sings the Blues, became her only number-one album, eventually selling two million copies. Ross scored her second number-one single in 1973 with the ballad, "Touch Me in the Morning". Later that year, Motown issued Diana & Marvin, a duet album with fellow Motown artist Marvin Gaye. The album became a hit overseas, eventually being certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for shipments of 100,000 copies. Ross toured throughout 1973 and 1974 in North America and abroad. Later in 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.[10]

"I'm Coming Out" was a hit single released in 1980, written and produced by Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers for her album Diana.

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Following the failure of Ross' 1974 album, Last Time I Saw Him, Ross returned to film with the film, Mahogany, eventually achieving a third number-one hit on the Hot 100 with "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)". In 1976, Ross changed genres, recording the disco hit, "Love Hangover", which became her fourth chart-topper. A year later, her 1977 concert special, An Evening with Diana Ross, later resulted in Ross winning a Special Tony Award. Her 1979 album, The Boss, became the first album where Berry Gordy didn't serve as executive producer. The Boss was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 500,000 copies. In 1980, Ross issued her best-selling album to date, diana, which featured her fifth number-one hit "Upside Down" and the top ten single, "I'm Coming Out". A year later, she scored her sixth and final number-one single in the duet ballad, "Endless Love", featuring Lionel Richie. As Ross planned to leave Motown, she hired an attorney who saw that Ross had only $300,000 to her name despite making millions of dollars for the label. After several labels offered to sign her, Ross agreed to sign with RCA Records for $20 million. Before signing, Ross called Gordy and asked him if he could match the offer. Despite not being able to match the offer, Gordy still begged Ross to think it over. Eventually Ross decided to leave and sign RCA, confirming the deal on May 20, 1981, making it then the most lucrative deal in music history at the time.

Film career: 1972–1999[edit]

In 1971, Diana Ross began working on her first film, Lady Sings the Blues, which was a loosely based biography on music legend Billie Holiday. Some critics lambasted the idea of the singer playing Holiday considering how "miles apart" their styles were. At one point, Ross began talking with several of Holiday's acquaintances and listened to her recordings to get into character. During an audition to acquire the role, Ross would act on cue to the film's producers's commands, helping Ross to win her part. When Berry Gordy heard Ross perform covers of Holiday's material, he felt Ross had put "a little too much" Holiday in her vocal range, advising Ross to "put a little Diana back into it."

Ross also talked with doctors at drug clinics in research of the film, as Holiday had been a known drug addict. Ross would later make a crucial decision when it came to interpreting Holiday's music: instead of flatly imitating Holiday, she only focused on Holiday's vocal phrasing. "Lady Sings the Blues" opened in theaters in October 1972, becoming a major success in Ross's career. Jazz critic Leonard Feather, a friend of Billie Holiday, 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. Alongside Cicely Tyson, who was nominated for her role in the film, Sounder, they were the first Black actresses to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress since Dorothy Dandridge. The soundtrack to "Lady Sings the Blues" became just as successful, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 staying there for two weeks and breaking then-industry records by shipping 300,000 copies during the first eight days of its release. At nearly two million in sales, it is one of Ross's best-selling albums to date.

After the film, Ross returned to her music career, reemerging with another film in 1975 with Mahogany, her second film, in which she starred alongside Billy Dee Williams and whose costumes she designed. 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."[11]

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. However, the role of Dorothy, which had been performed onstage by Stephanie Mills, would be given to Ross after she convinced film producer Rob Cohen to cast her in the role of Dorothy. This decision eventually 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 label mate, 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.[12][13][14] 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.[13][14] At the time, it was the most expensive film musical ever made.[15] The film's failure ended Ross's short career on the big screen and contributed to the Hollywood studios's 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.[16][17][18] The Wiz was Ross's final film for Motown.

Ross had success with movie-themed songs. 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.

Ross would be given movie offers over the years, which she reportedly rejected because of either contractual obligations or fears of typecasting. Ross had campaigned to portray pioneering entertainer Josephine Baker in a feature film even during her later years in Motown. However, in 1991, the feature film turned into a TV film with Lynn Whitfield playing Baker instead of Ross. Ross was also offered a role in an early adaptation of The Bodyguard with Ryan O'Neal. However, plans for this film fell through and it was never made. Years later, the script began circulation around Hollywood again and this time a film studio gave it the green light. Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner assumed the lead roles in the 1992 film. 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: 1981–1999[edit]

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 a selection of Michael Jackson's authorship, composition, and music production, "Muscles," resulting in another top ten success for Ross. The album eventually went gold under 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," which 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 $250,000 required to build the park. The Diana Ross Playground was finally built three years later.[19] The Diana Ross Playground at 83rd and Central Park West is a beautiful assortment of wood structures and classic outdoor children's gym obstacles making it a lovely addition to the park.

In 1984, Ross's career spiked yet again with the release of the million-selling 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 and the title selection both became international hits, as did the chart-topping 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 major success garnering platinum 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 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 seller across Europe underscoring that she and Michael were bigger international stars. The Barry Gibb produced album garnered an international #1 in "Chain Reaction" and a Top 20 selling album.

Earlier in 1985, she appeared as part of the supergroup 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 #1 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 U.K.[20] led by the No. 2 U.K. 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 U.K. in 2005. The album produced an astounding 9 singles across international territories, including another Top 10, "One Shining Moment".

Ross had success in international markets through 1994, when "One Woman", a career retrospective compilation, would become No. 1 in the U.K., selling quadruple platinum in the U.K. That album did well across Europe and in the anglosphere. She would sell aggressively in international markets from 1991–94.

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.[21] On January 28, 1996, she performed the Halftime Show at Super Bowl XXX.

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.[22]

Supremes reunions, Return to Love, 2002 Solo Tour[edit]

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." 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 appeared to frustrate Ross, causing her to push Wilson's shoulder. Later, Wilson was not aware of the script set by producer Suzanne DePasse, in which Ross was to introduce Berry Gordy. Wilson took it upon herself to do so, at which point Ross pushed down Wilson's hand-held microphone, stating "It's been taken care of." Ross, then, introduced Gordy.[23][24] 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."[25]

In 1999, Ross and mega-tour promoter SFX (which later became LiveNation) began negotiations regarding a Supremes tour in which all living former Supremes would participate. Due to personal matters, neither Jean Terrell nor late 1970s member Susaye Greene (who was then living in London with her then-husband) participated. 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 1967–1970 lineup of the group perform together for the first time in a concert tour since 1970 died down after Wilson failed to come to terms with SFX's offer of $4 million, while Ross had been offered, as co-producer of the tour, to split a percentage of its profits with SFX; Birdsong accepted a $1 million deal, the amount offered to all of the group's former members. Wilson eventually decided against the tour and Birdsong reluctantly dropped out, causing SFX to hire Payne and Laurence to sing with Ross on the tour. Both had scored highly on SFX's Supremes name-recognition poll. Wilson came in fourth. While 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, PA. The reunion tour, however, never made it through the first half. It was cancelled mid-tour due to lagging ticket sales. Some arenas barely filled to 25% capacity. Many believe there was lack of interest because the 2 members in the lineup during the second half of their heyday, 67-70, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong were not on the tour. Inn an interview with Wilson, she stated having been offered $2 million, and $1 million for Birdsong to Ross' $15 million.

In 2002, Ross entered rehabiliation 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 centre 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[edit]

Diana Ross is applauded by her fellow Kennedy Center honorees as she is recognized for her career achievements by President George W. Bush in the East Room of the White House Sunday, December 2, 2007, during the Kennedy Center Gala Reception. From left to right: singer-songwriter Brian Wilson; filmmaker Martin Scorsese; Ross; comedian, actor and author Steve Martin, and pianist Leon Fleisher.

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's 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' 1991 hit, "When You Tell Me You Love Me", repeating the original recording's chart success, garnering a #2 UK Billboard hit(#1 Ireland).

In June 2006, Universal released Ross' shelved 1972 Blue album. It peaked at No. 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.[26] 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, Diana Ross' performance was booed by audience members-seated near the rear of the venue-who were annoyed by Ross' 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, Diana 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 Ross' 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's 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, Ross 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, a multi-city U.S. 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.

In January 2015, Ross will perform at Tokyo, Japan's Nippon Budokan arena, following an absence of over a decade, before returning stateside for a series of concert dates.

On January 28, 2015, it was confirmed that Ross had signed a deal to do the first of nine performances as apart of her mini-residency show called The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade at the Venetian in Las Vegas starting in April 2015.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

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' 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. With Silberstein, Ross has two additional daughters, Tracee Joy and Chudney Lane Silberstein, born in 1972 and 1975 respectively.[29] Ross and Silberstein divorced in 1977,[30] 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.[citation needed]

Ross dated lead singer of Kiss band Gene Simmons from 1980 to 1983.[31]

Ross met her second husband, Norwegian billionaire shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr. in 1985 and married him the following year. They have two sons together: Ross Arne (born in 1987)[citation needed] and Evan Olav (born in 1988). Ross and Næss divorced in 2000.[32] Ross considers Næss the love of her life.[citation needed] Næss was later killed in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004.[33]

Ross has two grandchildren: grandson Raif-Henok (born in 2009 to Ross's daughter Rhonda) and granddaughter Callaway Lane (born in 2012 to Ross's daughter Chudney).[34] In 2014, singer Ashlee Simpson became Ross's daughter-in-law, through her marriage to Ross's son Evan.[35]

Ross was arrested for DUI on December 30, 2002 in Tucson, Arizona, while undergoing substance abuse treatment at a local rehabilitation facility.[36] She later served a two-day sentence near her Connecticut estate.[citation needed]


In 1994, the Supremes were recognized with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7060 Hollywood Blvd.

Ross has influenced many artists including Michael Jackson,[37] Beyoncé,[38] Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Rowland, Lil' Kim, Solange, Taylor Swift, Ashley Tisdale, Katy Perry, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J Blige, Leona Lewis, RuPaul, and Nicole Scherzinger. As a member of the Supremes, Ross helped influenced other African-American women who have succeeded the Supremes in popular music, such as the Three Degrees, the Emotions, the Pointer Sisters, En Vogue, TLC, Destiny's Child and Cleopatra.

Various works have been inspired by Ross' career and life. The character of Deena Jones in Dreamgirls was inspired by Ross herself.[39] As well, Sparkle was influenced by Ross and the Supremes as the name of the group was "Sister & The Sisters", in reference to "Diana Ross & the Supremes".

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.[40] 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".[41]

As lead singer of the Supremes and as a solo artist, Ross has earned 18 number-one singles. Ross is also credited for singing on the number-one single "We Are the World" as part of the USA for Africa collective. 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 Diana Ross' 1983 concert in Central Park, Diana Ross Playground was named in her honor with a ground breaking opening ceremony in 1986.

The Jackson 5's debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, title suggested that Ross had discovered the group, as do the Ross-penned liner notes on the back album cover. Ross' "discovery" of the Jackson 5 was part of Motown Records marketing and promotions plan for the Jackson 5, however, Ross did introduce the group to the public both in concert and on television.

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.

Diana Ross was named one of the Five Mighty Pop Divas of the Sixties along with Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves and Dionne Warwick.


Solo discography[edit]


DVDs Live![edit]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Diana Ross Was Born on March 26, 1944 | Music Trivia". Musicbyday.com. Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel; The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, p. 207
  3. ^ Wilson, Mary (1986). Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme. Cooper Square Press. pp. 169–170. ISBN 0-8154-1000-X. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "1962 Cass Technical Yearbook". classmates.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ Taraborelli 2008, p. 64.
  7. ^ a b Diana Ross interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  8. ^ Benjaminson, Peter. The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, November 2007. 75–79. ISBN 1-55652-705-5
  9. ^ 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, 183–188. ISBN 978-0-252-07498-1. 
  10. ^ Jet 1973, p. 60.
  11. ^ Posner, Gerald. Motown : Music, Money, Sex, and Power, pg. 286.
  12. ^ Sharp, Kathleen (2003). Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and Their Entertainment Empire. Carroll & Graf Publishers. pp. 357–358. ISBN 0-7867-1220-1. 
  13. ^ a b Harpole, Charles (2003). History of the American Cinema. Simon and Schuster. pp. 64, 65, 219, 220, 290. ISBN 0-684-80463-8. 
  14. ^ a b Adrahtas, Thomas (2006). A Lifetime to Get Here: Diana Ross: The American Dreamgirl. AuthorHouse. pp. 163–167. ISBN 1-4259-7140-7. 
  15. ^ Skow, John (October 30, 1978). "Nowhere Over the Rainbow". TIME (Time Warner). Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  16. ^ Moon, Spencer; George Hill (1997). Reel Black Talk: A Sourcebook of 50 American Filmmakers. Greenwood Press. xii. ISBN 0-313-29830-0. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ George, Nelson (1985). Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. St. Martin's Press. p. 193. 
  19. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller and Deirdre Carmody (September 12, 1986). "NEW YORK DAY BY DAY; Start at Ross Playground." New York Times. [1]
  20. ^ BPI 1991-U.K. Trade Magazine Music Week
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ "Diana Ross and Lil' Kim's wild VMA moment", Lisa Costantini, August 21, 2002, Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  23. ^ Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl, My Life As A Supreme and Taraborrelli, Randy, "Call Her Miss Ross, George, Nelson " Where Did Our Love Go?, The Rise & Fall of Motown
  24. ^ Posner, Gerald. Motown : Music, Money, Sex, and Power, pg. 308–309. and Taraborrelli, Randy, "The Unauthorized Biography of Diana Ross.
  25. ^ Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme., pg. 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.
  26. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (December 13, 2006). "New Diana Ross Album To Get U.S. Release". Billboard. 
  27. ^ http://www.lasvegassun.com/vegasdeluxe/2015/jan/26/confirmed-diana-ross-returns-las-vegas-start-new-m/
  28. ^ http://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel/diana-ross-doing-nine-show-stretch-venetian
  29. ^ Windeler, Robert (January 26, 1976). "Mr. & Mrs. Diana Ross?". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  30. ^ McMurran, Kristin (January 15, 1979). "Showbiz Wiz". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  31. ^ http://dating.famousfix.com/tpx_15/gene-simmons/dating-history
  32. ^ Stewart, Allison (November 16, 2004). "A 'suburban mom': Diana Ross at 60". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Ross' ex-husband killed in fall". BBC. January 14, 2004. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Meet Diana Ross' Just-Born Granddaughter Callaway Lane!". Us Weekly. September 22, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  35. ^ McNiece, Mia (August 31, 2014). "Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross Are Married". People. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  36. ^ Peterson, Todd. "Diana Ross Gets Jail Time for DUI – Diana Ross". People.com. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  37. ^ J Randy Taraborrelli (July 3, 2009). "'Michael was obsessed with Diana Ross, but his mother feared she would corrupt him...' | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  38. ^ this http://www.shmoop.com/if-i-were-a-boy/influences.html
  39. ^ "American Idol's Jennifer Hudson as the Supremes' Florence Ballard?". Oldies.about.com. September 10, 2007. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  40. ^ "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
  41. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone, Issue 946, March 24, 2004. Retrieved on July 4, 2004.

Further reading[edit]

  • Taraborrelli, J. Randy (May 1, 2007). Diana Ross: A Biography. Citadel. ISBN 0-8065-2849-4. 

External links[edit]