Diana Ross

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About Diana Ross

Once an aspiring fashion designer, the powerhouse singer Diana Ross epitomized Motown’s appeal in the ’60s: She was ever elegant, gracious, beautifully turned out—and her crystalline voice transcended everyday troubles like a little slice of heaven. Ross was born in 1944 in Detroit, and by the time she was 15 years old, the city had become a cultural hotbed teeming with musicians and an upwardly mobile Black middle class that was ready to enjoy the good life. Ross—who had sung in church—joined a vocal group called The Primettes; they went on to sign with Motown and were renamed The Supremes. As lead singer, Ross helmed an astonishing 12 No. 1 singles, including the evanescent “Baby Love,” and became a defining voice of the ’60s: unfailingly joyful, poised, and glamorous. Her solo career, which kicked off in 1970, proved that her explosive appeal would continue, with hits like her astral take on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the collegial “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” As the times changed, so did Ross: She tried her hand at musicals, including the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, and The Wiz, and embraced disco with songs like “Love Hangover.” The 1980 release Diana put her simmering career back at a boil thanks to the jangly Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards-penned dance-floor-fillers “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out.” Over the years, the singer has remained a powerful, arena-filling live performer, both on her own and with reunited Supremes. She’s widely considered one of the most successful and influential female entertainers of all time, lighting the path for future pop royalty including Madonna, Beyoncé, and countless others.

Detroit, MI, United States
March 26, 1944
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