Friday, March 27, 2009

The Skinny One in the Middle...

...turned a fabulous 65 yesterday. Like the other misunderstood Great Lady, Joan Crawford, Diana Ross's famed temperament and legendary demands often overshadow her very real, very important contributions and talents. As the first black female superstar to achieve the level of celebrity previously only afforded whites, Diana Ross should be mentioned each night in the prayers of everyone from Halle Berry to Oprah Winfrey to Tyra Banks. She also, directly or indirectly, influenced and paved the way for at least three generations of singers, from Donna Summer to Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson to Madonna, Beyonce to Rhianna. Indeed, Diana Ross nearly single-handedly invented and defined what we now accept as the template for the "pop diva."

No one would ever accuse Diana Ross of being Motown's best or most soulful singer; but she had, and still has, a precise, crisp, completely accessible style. Motown mogul Berry Gordy's favorite singer was Doris Day, of all people, because of her conversational style and perfect enunciation: you can hear how this influenced his shaping of Ross's sound.

Love her or hate her (and both camps are legion), Diana Ross simply cannot be denied. Her name was written in stone in the pantheon of greats long, long ago. Much of the mean-spiritedness with which so many of her colleagues, music historians, and her successors disparage her name and reputation can be traced to the fact that not only did Diana Ross have the audacity to be black and beautiful, but she also made it seem so easy -- and she wasn't sentimental about cutting her losses and leaving people behind who couldn't help her achieve her goals. How dare she!

At the end of the day, however, the numbers and tallies don't lie: nearly 50 years in the business, 18 Number One hits, an Oscar nomination, a special Tony, a Kennedy Center Honor, Billboard magazine's "Entertainer of the Century" citation, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame... why shouldn't we bow down and call her Miss Ross?

March 26, 1944



  1. In 1975 (I was 7!) Mahogany was a life changing event for me. The fashions were fabulous. I decided then and there that I wanted to be outrageously glamorous 24 hours a day!

  2. The men love you, the women love you! You're a winner, baby!

  3. My favorite DIVA evah! To see her in concert was to be captivated by sheer electric charisma. One of the highlights in my life was when she sat on my lap and sang an entire ballad to me while playing with my hair. At the end of the song, she kissed me.

    Great post!

  4. Scooter, if I didn't already love you, I'd hate you. Which song was it?

    More important -- did you get to play with HER hair???

  5. Miss Ross has been my inspiration since i was just a young 7th bday gift from mom and dad was ringside seats at Blinstrubs nightclub in Boston many years ago...and she, and the girls have been with me ever since.

  6. For more great information on Diana Ross, please check out Dick's Diana Ross Website.

    The web address is

    Thank you!

  7. Fear not, dear, you were linked at the bottom of the regular post. :)


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