I remember well a little over a month ago as I was driving along I-95 one night, I happened to look up at a billboard advertising Diana Ross coming in concert. Diana Ross? I did a double-take and could not believe it! Coming to the Hard Rock? Yes, it was true, the same Diana Ross who was lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes. That same Diana Ross who starred in movies such as Mahogany, The Wiz and Lady Sings the Blues was coming to town in concert. I knew that she had returned to concert performances, but I never thought in a million years she would appear in South Florida ever again. However, Diana Ross fulfilled her concert performance last week right here in South Florida.
I was not surprised by the simple fact that Diana Ross made a concert appearance, because she has done so for her over fifty year career. The amazing part of the story had to be an appearance of a true living legend. Her accomplishments in the music industry are multitudinous. 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.
I am privileged to have witnessed Ross’ career spanning from The Supremes throughout her years in movies and illustrious solo music career. All I can tell you is I have been entertained by Diana Ross with everything she has done. With that being said, many of my friends have had different ideas. Several did not think much of Ross’ singing or her acting in films. In fact, some friends seem to leave her out of conversations about Motown greats. I guess I’ve always been the different one of the bunch. From my viewpoint Diana Ross is one of the top artists of our time. Really, she is a top performer of any time. I’m not alone in my placement of Diana Ross’ historic place. Many top artists of today have similar feelings. Ross has influenced many artists including Michael Jackson and Beyoncé Knowles. Recording artist Kelly Rowland has also cited her as an influence. Among others who have cited her as influence are, female hip hop rapper Lil’ Kim, Janet Jackson, Solange, Fergie, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Nicole Scherzinger, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
For me, I feel Ross made her case for greatness in her 1983 New York City Central Park concert. Yes, the famous concert where Diana Ross continued to perform in spite of a hard rainstorm. Her decision to continue to perform despite the adverse conditions solidified her rightful place in musical history. This Diana Ross concert was the epitome of the statement “the show must go on”. And it did! After viewing footage of the concert I still have trouble finding words to describe the show. Therefore I borrowed from something familiar to her…..simply supreme. That seems to be a good way to describe the sixty-nine year old singer who still gives her soul in each performance. I don’t think Ms. Ross will be performing outdoors on any remaining tour dates; she won’t have to deal with foul weather. I believe that Ms. Ross could easily overcome many problems and give her audience the show they came to see. Simply Supreme!