Browsing through the “Diana Ross” section at Wax N Facts Records in Atlanta, I came across this promo copy of the 1979 LP Changes by Diana’s younger brother, T-Boy Ross. He is credited with co-writing the album (his only Motown release), and the track list includes two tunes that will be instantly recognizable to fans of the singer’s big sister.
Mr. Ross (given name: Arthur) initially found success at Motown as a writer; with Leon Ware, he wrote the 1972 Michael Jackson hit “I Wanna Be Where You Are.” Ross and Ware also composed the bulk of the material for the 1976 Marvin Gaye LP I Want You, which hit #1 on the soul chart, along with the now-classic title track. I’ve read that Ware and Ross had a falling out around the time of I Want You, leading T-Boy to focus on his own album.
Changes opens with a cover of his own “I Want You” and closes with a song called “To The Baby” — both of which were also recorded by big sister Diana. “To The Baby” was done by Diana in the early 1970s, and was supposed to be the title track for an album of songs dedicated to her children (that album went unreleased until 2009, when it was included on the fabulous Touch Me In The Morning Expanded Edition). Meanwhile, Miss Ross included “I Want You” on her 2006/2007 release I Love You, dedicating it to her late brother.
Based on what I’ve heard from the album, Changes is a collection of funky tunes featuring touches of disco and modern jazz (probably thanks, in part, to collaborator and jazz legend Joe Sample). T-Boy’s voice is remarkably dissimilar to his sister’s; he possesses a unique high and raspy tone that (when listened to today) sounds more akin to Macy Gray. Interestingly, although the album was apparently not a huge seller in 1979, it has gained enough of a following to have been released on CD overseas.