Monday, 22 July 2013


              BLACK            SOCIAL              HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Diana Ernestine Earle Ross  born March 26, 1944  is an American singermusic artist, and actress.
Ross first rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes during the 1960s. After leaving the group in 1970, Ross began a solo career that has included successful ventures into film and Broadway. She received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972), for which she won a Golden Globe award for most promising female newcomer. She has won seven American Music Awards, and won a Special Tony Award for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross, in 1977.
In 1976, Billboard magazine named her the "Female Entertainer of the Century." In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Diana 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. Diana 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.
Ross is 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. In December 2007, she received the Kennedy Center Honors. In 2012, Diana was finally honored by NARAS with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in her 50th year in the music business.

Early life

Diana Ross was born at Hutzel Women's Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 1944. 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 United States Army soldier, Ross would later say that she didn't 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".
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. Virginia Baytop's mother Francis "Frankey" Baytop was a former slave who had become a midwife after the American Civil War.
Ross and her family originally lived at Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, Michigan, where she was neighbors with 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 projectssettling 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, a four-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit. Ross eventually worked at Hudson's Department Store where, it was claimed in biographies, that she was the first black employee "allowed outside the kitchen". Ross graduated in January 1962, one semester earlier than her classmates.


The Supremes: 1959–1970

At fifteen, Ross was brought to the attention of music impresario Milton Jenkins, manager of the local doo-wop group the Primes, by Mary Wilson. Paul Williams, then member of The Primes, convinced Jenkins to include Ross in the Primettes, considered a "sister group" of the Primes. Ross was part of a lineup that included Wilson, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown, who completed the lineup. In 1960, following their win at a singing contest in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the group auditioned for a spot on Motown Records after Smokey Robinson introduced the young group to Berry Gordy. Upon learning of their ages, Gordy advised them to come back after graduation. Undeterred, the quartet stayed around Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters, offering to provide extra help for Motown's recordings, often including hand-claps and background vocals. That same year, the Primettes made their first recordings for Lu Pine Records, with Ross singing lead on her and Ballard's composition, "Tears of Sorrow". During the group's early years, Ross served as the group's main hair stylist, make-up artist, seamstress and costume designer.

In January 1961, after having replaced McGlown with Barbara Martin, Berry Gordy agreed to sign the young act under the condition they change their name. Each member picked out various names from friends. Eventually they settled on The Supremes, though Ross initially had apprehensions toward the name – she felt the name would mistake them for a male vocal group. But Gordy agreed with the new name and signed them on January 15 of that year. Following Martin's exit in 1962, the group remained a trio. During the group's early years, there was no designated lead vocalist for the group as they had agreed to split lead vocals between their choice of song material; Ross favoring the uptempo pop songs. That changed in 1963 when Gordy assigned Ross, who had already sung lead on the majority of their early singles, as the main lead vocalist, considering that her vocals had potential to reach Gordy's dreams of crossover success. Following this, they recorded their first hit single, "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes", later that year, where it peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Before this song, the Supremes were unfavorably pinned as the "no-hit Supremes". Following this, the group reached number-one with "Where Did Our Love Go" and reached 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. 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.
After a period of tension, Florence Ballard was removed from the Supremes by Gordy in July 1967 and he chose Cindy Birdsong to take her place. Gordy's decision to rename the group,Diana Ross & The Supremes, hinted that he had plans on making Ross a future solo star. Gordy initially thought of Ross leaving the Supremes for a solo career in 1966 but changed his mind when he figured the group's success was still too massive for Ross to pursue solo obligations. Ross would remain with the group until early 1970. Between their early 1968 single "Forever Came Today" and their final single, "Someday We'll Be Together", Ross would be the only Supremes member to be prominently featured on the recordings, further dissolving the group's former rapport. Gordy worked Ross diligently throughout this period and Ross chose to not eat much as the group went on countless rehearsals and recording sessions. By the time the group performed at places like The Copacabana and Coconut Grove, there were rumors that Ross had been suffering from anorexia nervosa due to her extremely skinny frame. After some performances, Ross would collapse from exhaustion, forcing Gordy to cancel or postpone several concerts until Ross felt well enough to perform again.
In 1968, Ross started performing as a solo artist mainly on television specials, including The Supremes' own specials such as TCB and G.I.T. on Broadway. In mid-1969, Gordy decided to have Ross leave the group by the end of the year and Ross began sessions for her own solo work that July. One of the first plans for Ross to establish her own solo career was to bring in a new Motown recording act. Though she herself didn't claim discovery, Motown pinned Ross as having discovered The Jackson 5. Ross would introduce the group to several public events including The Hollywood Palace though she added in "Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5", which didn't sit well with the Jacksons' father, Joseph Jackson and Gordy. In November, Ross confirmed a split from the Supremes on 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. Ross made her final appearance with the Supremes at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970.

Early solo career: 1970–1981

After her obligations with the Supremes were fulfilled with Jean Terrell set as the Supremes' new lead vocalist, Ross signed a new contract as a solo artist in March 1970. Two months later, Motown released her eponymous solo debut, which included the hits, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," the latter song becoming her first number-one single as a solo artist on the pop and R&B charts, also becoming an international hit reaching the UK top ten, and winning Ross her first Grammy nomination. Ross followed this with a second solo album, Everything Is Everything, which was also released in 1970, and included the number-one UK ballad, "I'm Still Waiting." The album, however, failed to reach the same success as Ross' debut. Reunited with Ashford & Simpson, Ross fared better with her third album, Surrender, released in 1971, which included her hit cover of the Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There" and "Remember Me."
To continue that album's momentum, Ross performed in her first solo TV special, Diana!, which was a ratings success. Due to her commitments to working on her first major film and her duet recording with Marvin Gaye, Ross only released one solo recording in 1972. She reemerged in 1973 with "Touch Me in the Morning," which became her first single to reach number-one in three years. The album of the same name became Ross's first non-soundtrack studio album to reach the top ten, peaking at #5. Later that year, the Diana & Marvin album, her duet album with Gaye, was released, and spawned five hit singles, including three released in the United States and two in Europe, gaining an international hit with their cover of The Stylistics' "You Are Everything." In 1973, Ross began giving out concerts overseas where she immediately sold out at every concert venue she performed at. That year, 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. Ross's next solo album, 1974's Last Time I Saw Him featured the successful title track, but it was not as successful as Touch Me in the Morning. Ross didn't have an album release in 1975, but was at work on the film Mahogany. She had an incident with Gordy on the set of the film when she struck him after the two had engaged in an argument. Ross returned on the musical scene in 1976 with another eponymous album, which saw her gain a dance audience after the release of the disco

-tinged song, "Love Hangover," which returned her to number-one. Will Smith later sampled the hook of "Love Hangover" for his song "Freakin' It".
Ross's 1977 album Baby It's Me faltered on the charts. Ross decided to try her hand at Broadway and in 1977 she starred in her own one-woman show entitled An Evening with Diana Ross. Her performance resulted in her winning a Tony Award, and a television special of the Broadway show was later aired on TV. 1978 saw the release of the album Ross which didn't fare well on the charts. In 1979, Ross achieved her first gold-selling album in three years with The Boss, the first album since Surrender to be formally produced by Ashford & Simpson, who had by then left Motown to have a successful singing career. Initially, Ross had been set to work on an album with Rick James; James would later confirm that the song, "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" was originally a duet between himelf and Ross, but James changed his mind after Motown only wanted him to produce a couple of songs on her album instead of the whole project. James passed on the song and some others on Teena Marie's debut album. The recording of The Boss somewhat further deteriorated Ross's relationship with Gordy as he was not completely happy with the finish product and refused to receive credit as executive producer.
Nevertheless, the single "The Boss" gave Ross her first US Top 20 hit in three years; since 1976's "Love Hangover".

After catching the group Chic at a concert where she attended with her daughters, Ross requested from band members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to work with them in New York for her next album. They agreed and in 1980 Motown released Ross's album Diana. It became her highest-charting solo album and her most successful of all her solo albums. It featured the hits "Upside Down," her first song to reach number-one in four years. Other successful singles included "I'm Coming Out", its hook would later be sampled for "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"; and "It's My Turn". This would be Ross's final studio album under her Motown contract. She would later work on four songs to complete her contractual obligations for the compilation album, To Love Again, which would be released in May 1981. Though Ross had sought to leave Motown in 1980 shortly after the release of Diana, she discovered, just as she was planning to leave Motown, that she only had up to $150,000 in her name despite helping Motown to earn millions of dollars with her recordings in the twenty years she had been signed to the label. Upon learning she was a free agent, several labels offered deals. Eventually, Ross would settle on a $20 million deal with RCA Records. Before signing, however, Berry Gordy called her begging her to not leave Motown. Ross asked if Gordy could match the $20 million that RCA had offered her. When Gordy told her that he could not match it, Ross told him she was planning to leave the company. Ross signed with RCA on May 20, 1981, and her $20 million deal in 1981 became then the most lucrative contract of any recording artist at the time. After leaving, Ross achieved her sixth and final number-one hit with Lionel Richie on the ballad "Endless Love" around the same time Ross left the label.