Motown legend Diana Ross celebrates her 74th birthday today.
Ross was born on March 26, 1944 in Detroit and was raised in the Brewster-Douglass housing district — at one time the largest residential housing project owned by the city of Detroit.
Ross developed a reputation as a young talent when she began singing in the Primettes as a teenager with Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin. The group would go on to lose Martin but gain a new name and international following as the Supremes.
The Supremes were one of Motown Record's most successful acts of the 1960s, becoming the first ever U.S. group to top the charts five consecutive times with their singles, "Where Did Our Love Go?," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love," and "Back In My Arms Again."
Diana Ross and The Supremes' impact on pop, R&B, and soul music cannot be understated — they paved the way for African American acts of the future to find mainstream success in ways that hadn't been done before.
In 1970, Ross departed the Supremes to pursue a solo career. She wasted no time in continuing to top the Billboard charts, releasing her self-titled debut solo album, which contained the Top 20 hit "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and the No. 1 hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's song from 1967.
Ross dabbled in film during the '70s, starring as singer Billie Holiday in the biopic Lady Sings the Blues in 1972. Ross received a Best Actress nod at the Academy Awards for her performance. Acting roles in Mahogany from 1975 and The Wiz in 1978 followed.
While many artists from the Motown era struggled to maintain their popularity through the 1970s and into the '80s, Ross stood strong at the break of the new decade. Her 1980 album, Diana, produced by Chic's Nile Rogers, spawned the top singles "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out," going platinum along the way. Hip-hop fans may recognize the latter track as the main sample used in the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 hit "Mo Money Mo Problems."
More recently, Ross has racked up some of the highest musical honors including a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016, and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 American Music Awards.
Here are seven songs from Ross' long and honored career as one of the top women in pop, R&B, and soul.
"Baby Love" — The Supremes (1964)
"Stop! In the Name of Love" — The Supremes - (1965)
"Someday We'll Be Together" — Diana Ross and the Supremes (1969).
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" — Diana Ross (1970)
"Love Hangover" — Diana Ross (1976)
"Upside Down" — Diana Ross (1980)
"I'm Coming Out" — Diana Ross (1980)
Anthony Spak is an editorial intern with the Metro Times and a recent graduate of Oakland University’s journalism program.
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