“Female Entertainer Of the Century”
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross was born on March 26, 1944 in Detroit. She was the lead singer of the The Supremes during the 60s, which became one of the most successful vocal groups, and one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. The Supremes made it on the Billboard Hot 100 for the following songs, “Someday We’ll Be together”, “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, and others. In 1994 The Supremes were recognized with a star of Hollywood on the famous Walk of Fame. Ross left The Supremes in 1970, where she began a solo career for herself. Again her songs made it on the Top Hits list, these songs were, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Love Hangover”, “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”, “Endless Love”, “Upside Down”, and “I’m Coming Out”. In the Guinness Book Of World Records Ross was named the most successful female artist in history. She was awarded this title due to having more female top hits then any other female artist, and for selling over 100 million records world wide. She has been nominated for over 12 Grammy Awards, and in 2012 won Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.Ross also pursued a career in acting she performed in the movies, Mahogany, and The Wiz in the 70s. In the 90s she performed in two television films titled, Out of Darkness, and Double Platinum; she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance. In 1988 Diana Ross was put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from her performance with The Supremes. In 2007 she was awarded The Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2016 she was awarded the Presidential Medal 0f Freedom. Diana Ross paved a road for African American female artists, she was one of the first to break stereotypes of black women singers.
When Ross was fifteen she joined a The Primettes, a female singer group. The group included Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown, the group of girls auditioned for Motown Records, the record company was impressed but learning of their age advised them to come back after they had graduated from high school. In the 60s Barbara Martin replaced Betty McGlown, she however eventually left the group, and Ross became the lead singer of The Supremes. In the 70s Ross left her group and sought after a solo career, her songs grew in popularity and became top hits, she appeared on television shows with other famous groups such as The Jackson Five, and in 1974 she became the first female African American to co-host the 46th Academy Awards. Ross’s most successful album was released in 1980 and was entitled diana. At the end of the 1980s Ross decided to leave Motown records, and sign with other record producers who offered her more money. She continued her work with her solo career, she pursued her acting career, and in 2002 went on a Solo Tour with her old group The Supremes.
Diana Ross is a succesful African American women, however she had a few issues that hindered her career and life. In 1999 Ross was in London at the airport, she got in a fight with a security guard, was arrested and detained for hours. In 2000 Ross tried for another music tour with her old group The Supremes, she left out original members and attendance was so low the tour closed early. In 2002 Ross was in Arizona and was arrested for driving under the influence, in 2004 she served two days in jail because of her irresponsible driving. Ross’s father Fred Ross died in 2007, she was very close to him and felt the loss deeply. Despite some setbacks in her life, Ross’s successful career has lead to inspire other African American women and turned the tables for African American women vocal singers.
“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.” Diana Ross
Ross faced many roadblocks to becoming successful, she was a women, the civil rights movement was in full swing and being an African American women she faced much discrimination. Disregarding the barriers that were set in Ross’s way, she was able to break down these stereotypes and became one of the most successful women artist in history. The Supremes represented feminist ideas for black women, they appeared classy and not trashy, and that black women could be successful in the music industry. Sean MacLoed a historian wrote a book on girl groups in the 60s, he stated the following in his book, “The Supremes nonetheless became probably the strongest force of black American, if not black world music in the early sixties, and were probably the only group that ever really opposed any commercial threat to The Beatles, knocking them off the top spot, particularly in the United States, on a number of occasions.”
MacLeod, Sean. Leaders of the Pack: Girl Groups of the 1960s and Their Influence on Popular Culture in Britain and America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.