The Boss: Ms. Diana Ross

Diana Ross is the boss of the music industry because of her extensive discography, crossover appeal, and longevity in entertainment. 

Early Life

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross was born on March 26, 1944 in Detroit Michigan to her parents Ernestine and Fred Ross Sr. She is the second of seven children. While staying in Highland Park she was neighbors with Smokey Robinson before moving in with her father. When she relocated with her father she stayed in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects. This was where she attended Cass Technical High School, a four year college and preparatory magnet school. Diana was taking classes and soon took an interest in clothing design, tailoring, pattern making, and had hopes of becoming a fashion designer. This was the beginning of her artistic awakening. At the age of 15 Diana joined a girl group called The Primettes alongside her friends Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Betty McGlown. After winning a talent competition they caught the attention of Motown Records and were invited to audition for the label. This was the beginning of their musical journey. 

Career

With the help of Diana’s childhood friend/ neighbor, Smokey Robinson, The Primettes signed to Motown records in 1961. One of the conditions of signing under Motown would be changing their name, The Supremes name would soon be born. In 1962 the quartet would be reduced to a trio leaving Diana as the lead singer. Between 1964 and 1967 The Supremes sang on ten number 1 hit singles. In 1966 the group changed its name to Diana Ross & the Supremes to be able to charge more for performances. In 1970 Diana decided it was time for her to start her solo career with the help of Berry Gordy. Diana released her debut album in May of 1970 entitled Diana Ross. This album  would have her breakout/ first number 1 singles Reach Out and Touch and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Diana began getting so much traction that she starred in her own television special, Diana. This special would introduce the Jackson 5 and help them gain popularity. Shortly after releasing her second album ,Surrender, Diana began working on her first film The Lady Sings the Blues. This film was based on the singer Bille Holiday’s life and would also go on to Diana a Golden Globe. Diana never stopped making music, she would release a new album every year and sometimes even two a year. In 1974 Diana took a quick break to begin working on her second film, Mahogany. This film was released in 1975, in this film Diana got to live her childhood dream of becoming a clothing designer. Mahogany’s theme song Do you Know Where You’re Going To became one of Diana’s most memorable songs and her third number one. After filming Mahogany Diana was right back in the studio. She released her albums Baby its Me and Ross in 1977 and 1978. Also in 1977 her third movie The Wiz was released. She starred alongside her mentee/ protege Michael Jackson. Once again shortly after wrapping up filming The Wiz Diana began working on her next albums. In 1979 she released her album The Boss and in 1980 her most successful album Diana. The album Diana sold over 10 millions copies worldwide, on this album she had her major hits Upside Down and Im Coming Out. This song would soon change the music industry. While recording this song Diana dedicated this song to the LGBTQ+ community. She was a huge advocate for equality and was one of the first major artist to support the community. This song also became sampled like crazy! The most well known sample of this song is Mo Money Mo Problems by Notorious B.I.G.  Although Diana’s career was flourishing her relationship at Motown was not. Due to not having creative control over her music Diana left Motown and signed to RCA in 1981 for $20 million, this was the most expensive record deal at that time. Diana was a huge advocate for giving back so in 1983 Diana performed a free concert in Central Park and all of the proceeds made from this concert went to making a park for the children in the neighborhood. Like always Diana returned to the studio and in 1985 appeared on We Are the World as a charity single alongside Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and many others. Diana continued to release albums regularly after that but soon started to slow down in 2000. In that year she decided it was time to reunite with the other living members of the Supremes. From 2000-2003 The Supremes performed all over. Although Diana has slowed down a lot she still performs and still remains the diva. While managing such a busy career Diana was able to give birth and mother 5 children. Ms. Diana Ross is a testament that hard work pays off and to follow your dreams. There will never be another Diana Ross. 

Awards

  • Favorite Pop/Rock Album- Lady Sings the Blues (1974 AMA’s)
  • Favorite Soul/R&B Female Vocalist (1975 & 1981 AMA’s)
  • Favorite Soul/R&B Single- Upside Down (1981 AMA’s)
  • Favorite Soul/R&B Single Duet- Endless Love (1982 AMA’s)
  • Favorite Pop/Rock Single Duet- Endless Love (1982 AMA’s)
  • Favorite Soul/R&B Female Vocalist (1983 AMA’s)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (2012 Grammy’s)
  •  Most Promising Newcomer Female (1973 Golden Globe’s)
  • Special Tony Award- An Evening with Diana Ross (1977 Tony’s)
  •  Female Entertainer of the Year (1970 NAACP Image Awards)
  • Inducted into the Guinness World Records- Most Successful Female Singer of All Time (1993)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (1982)
  • Heritage Award (1995 Soul Train Award’s)
  • Inducted into the Soul Train Hall of Fame (1996)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (2007 BET Award’s)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (2017 AMA’s)
  • etc. 

Discography

Through Diana’s career span of 60 years she has released 32 solo albums and has had 27 top 40 Billboard singles. While with the supremes she has had 12 number 1 singles. Diana has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. When thinking of Diana Ross many songs come to mind. For example, you may think of Im Coming Out, Endless Love, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Upside Down, and many more. Although these songs were enormous hits they were not her biggest song. Home from The Wiz was her biggest hit, although it is unknown how many records this song has sold it is a major of pop culture and still being sung today. 

Sources

Chic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2021, from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rbBO88DIWBMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA34&dq=di ana%2Bross&ots=f3lyZfWOU0&sig=XUemp21psqW6YpZvCg6UenKczt0#v=onepage&q= diana%20ross&f=false

Diana Ross. (2021, February 17). Retrieved March 04, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Diana-Ross

Fong-Torres, B. (2018, June 25). The summer and fall of Diana Ross. Retrieved March 04, 2021, from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/the-summer-and-fall-of-diana-ross-73465/

Lipshutz, J. (2017, July 11). Top 10 girl groups of all time. Retrieved March 04, 2021, from https://www.billboard.com/articles/pop-shop/girl-group-week/5901266/top-10-girl-groups-of -all-time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LspB2rJHXLk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HjM5QJBRlw.

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