Did you know?
Her mother actually named her "Diane" but a clerical error resulted in her name being cited as "Diana" on her birth certificate and it was just never corrected. Although her legal name was "Diana," she always went by "Diane." In fact, at The Supremes' first Copacabana performance in 1965, she introduced herself to the audience as "Diane." Later that same year she started introducing herself as "Diana."
Her closet friends and family still call her "Diane."
After leaving the Supremes in 1970, Ross began a solo career that included successful ventures into film and Broadway. She received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination and won a Golden Globe award for her 1972 role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues.
She has won eight American Music Awards, garnered twelve Grammy Award nominations, and won a Tony Award for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross, in 1977.
With a career total 18 #1 records, and more than 100 million records worldwide Diana Ross is considered the most successful female recording artist of the 20th century.
In 1976, Billboard magazine named Diana Ross 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 U.S and the U.K. for having more hits than any female artist on the chart.
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Diana (Diane) Ernestine Earle Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan. Ross aspired to be a fashion designer, and studied design, millinery, pattern-making and seamstress skills.
In 1959, Ross drew the attention of Milton Jenkins, the manager of the local doo-wop group The Primes, by Mary Wilson. Primes member Paul Williams convinced Jenkins to enlist Ross in the sister group The Primettes, which included Wilson, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown.
In 1960, Lu Pine Records signed the group and issued the Ross-led single "Tears of Sorrow." backed with the Wilson-led "Pretty Baby."Soon after winning a singing contest in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ross approached former neighbor William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. for an audition at his recording label, Motown Records. The group impressed Motown's CEO, Berry Gordy, Jr., but he passed on working with them because they were underaged.
Undeterred, the group would stand outside the label's Hitsville USA studios hoping to grab attention, eventually providing backing vocals & hand claps for many of Motown's more established artists. Meanwhile during the group's struggling early years Ross earned pay in the day as Berry Gordy's secretary. She also served at the group's main hair stylist, make-up artist, seamstress & costume designer.
In 1961, having already replaced McGlown with Barbara Martin, the quartet signed with Motown Records under their new name, The Supremes, chosen by Florence Ballard, who was the only member to be present when the group was offered a name change. Both Ross and Wilson initially disliked the name, afraid they would be mistaken for a men's group (Ruby & The Romantics' original name was The Supremes) but the name stuck regardless.
After Martin's left in 1962, the group remained a trio. In 1963, Ross became the group's lead singer, as Berry Gordy felt the group could "cross over" to the pop charts with Ross' unique vocal quality, and the Ross-led "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" became the group's first Billboard Top 20 Pop single.
The Supremes hit number one with "Where Did Our Love Go," a song rejected by The Marvelettes, and then achieved 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 United Kingdom Top 40.
Gordy removed Florence Ballard from the group in July 1967 and chose Cindy Birdsong, a member of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, as her replacement. Shortly thereafter, he changed the group's name to Diana Ross & the Supremes.
Motown initially conceived of a solo career for Diana Ross in 1966, but did not act on it until 1968. Television specials were designed to spotlight her as a star in her own right, and much of the later Ross-led Supremes material was recorded by Ross with session singers The Andantes, not Wilson and Birdsong, on backing vocals.
By the summer of 1969, Ross began her first solo recordings. In November of the same year, Billboard magazine confirmed Ross's departure from the group to begin her solo career. "Someday We'll Be Together," was tagged as a potential solo single, but it instead was issued as the final Diana Ross & the Supremes release.
"Someday We'll Be Together" was the 12th and final number-one hit for the Supremes and the last American number-one hit of the 1960s. Ross made her final appearance with the Supremes at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970.
Though Ross had previously appeared in two films while a member of The Supremes, it wasn't until the early 1970s when Berry Gordy began to focus on making Ross an actress. In late 1971, Motown announced that Diana Ross was going to portray jazz icon Billie Holiday in a Motown-produced film loosely based on Holiday's autobiography Lady Sings the Blues. Opening in October 1972, Lady Sings the Blues was a major success, and Ross's performance was well received.
At the 2007 BET Awards, Ross was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by her five children and singer Alicia Keys. Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan performed musical tributes to Ross, covering several of her most popular recordings. Later that year, the Kennedy Center Honors committee, which recognizes career excellence, cultural influence and contributions to American culture, named Diana Ross as one of its honorees.
In May 2008, Ross headlined at New York City's Radio City Music Hall's 'Divas with Heart' concert event, which also featured fellow performers Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle.
Ross performed a cross-country tour in the summer of 2010. The More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour was dedicated to her late friend Michael Jackson. An extended American leg of the tour began in September, 2010, and is scheduled to continue until March 2011, in Stamford, Connecticut. It is rumored that Ross will mount European & Asian legs of the tour.