Diana Ross, 1944

  • Diana-Ross-WWP

Woman Category: MusicWoman Tags: Actress, African-American Women, NYC Women, Producer, Singer, and Songwriter

  • HerStory

    Singer, actress, record producer, and songwriter. The founding member and lead singer of Supreme – America’s most successful vocal group.

    Diana Ross was born and raised in Brewster Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, she used to play baseball and learned tap dancing at the Community Center. Ross attended Cass Technical High School, where she studied millinery, tailoring, pattern making, and clothing design, aiming to become a fashion designer. While at school, Ross worked at Hudson’s Department Store and as a hairdresser.
    In 1960, at the age of 15, Ross joined a women vocal group named the Primettes, singing together with Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Betty McGlown. A year later, the group won a talent competition and got an invitation to audition for Motown Records. Though they did not get accepted, the four members used to go to the labels’ headquarters to offer their help for other’s recording, providing background vocals and handclaps. Their persistence paid off, and in 1961, they signed with Berry Gordy, Motown Records’s executive, under the condition that they will rename the group. In the following year, Martin left the group, and the trio began to record under their new name – the Supremes. Their first hit, “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” was released in 1963, reaching NO. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. At the end of that year, 19 years old Ross became the group’s lead singer. The following year, their single “Where Did Our Love Go” scored their first No. 1 hit, which paved the way to a streak of top of the chart’s singles. In 1967, the group was renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes, embarking on her path to a solo career. In 1969, at the age of 25, Ross recorded her first solo album and began to release one hit after another, among them are “Reach Out” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
    During that time, Ross and Motown’s CEO, Gordy, became romantically involved. They broke up in 1971 while Ross was pregnant with her first child. A few months later, she married the music producer, Robert Ellis Silberstein, with whom she had two daughters. The couple divorced in 1977.
    In 1971, at 27, Ross made her film debut, portraying Billie Holiday in the feature film “Lady Sings the Blues,” for which she got nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for best actress. Afterward, Ross starred in a few more films, including “Mahogany” and “The Wiz.” During the 1970s, she released more than 10 albums and performed in numerous TV specials while touring throughout the country. In 1980, at the age of 36, Ross released her bestselling album “Diana,” which included the singles “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out.” In the following year, Ross left Motown and signed with RCA Records, receiving a music history severance of US$250,000. In the coming years, she released more albums, established her own production company called Anaid Productions, and participated in movies.
    In the early 2000s, Ross had some turbulences. First, the cancelation of the highly anticipated Supreme reunion tour, then she got arrested for a DUI, followed by a rehab from alcohol. At 62, fully recovered, Ross returned to the stage, performing in the televised concert “For One & for All,” which won the Land Awards’ Viewer’s Choice for Television’s Greatest Music Moment. Ross continued to release albums, especially collections and shelved recordings from the 70s. In her long-life career, Ross has earned 18 NO. 1 singles, recorded 24 studio albums, 5 soundtrack albums, and 5 live albums, and starred in 5 movies.

    “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself”

    “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She was originally named “Diane,” but her name was recorded “Diana” on her birth certificate because of a clerical error.
    • During the Supremes’ first years, she worked as a seamstress, costume designer, makeup artist, and hairstylist.
    • She is credited with having discovered the Jackson 5.
    • In 1973, she became the first entertainer to receive an invitation to a private audience with the Empress Nagako of Japan.
    • In 1974, she became the first African-American woman to co-host the Academy Awards.
    • In 1991, she headlined the Royal Variety Performance, singing before Queen Elizabeth II.
    • In 1993 she was inducted into the Guinness Book Of World Records as “THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST IN HISTORY.”
    • In 2005, she launched a M.A.C. makeup collection.
    • She has her own fragrance, called Diamond Diana.
    • She was married twice, has 5 biological children and three stepchildren.
    • She was named one of the Five Mighty Pop Divas of the Sixties alongside Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, and Martha Reeves.
    • She published three autobiographies.
    • She donated money to build the Diana Ross Playground. It is one of the stops of the Central park’s women heritage trail by the Wander Women Project.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Tony award (1977)
    * Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1988)
    * Entered into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (1988)
    * Inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Foundation as a member of The Supremes (2003)
    * The Legendary Female award from the Capital Gold Legends Award (2003)
    * Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award (2012)
    * The Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016)
    * The American Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award (2017)
    * Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Booking.com

  • Ain't No Mountain High Enough

    Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group

    Ain't No Mountain High Enough · Diana Ross

    Diana Ross

    ℗ 1970 UMG Recordings, Inc.

    Released on: 1970-01-01

    Producer: Valerie Simpson
    Producer: Nickolas Ashford
    Composer Lyricist: Nickolas Ashford
    Composer Lyricist: Valerie Simpson

    Auto-generated by YouTube.

  • Ross in 2004. Photo credit - Shutterstock

  • Citations and Additional References:
    Black Past website.
    Wikipedia page.