It’s been more than four years since I created The Diana Ross Project, in an effort to re-focus the conversation around Diana Ross on her music and her impact as an artist. I’ve always believed that Diana’s legacy has been unfairly affected by attention on her personal life, something that’s probably the result of many factors, not the least of which stem from her being 1) a woman and 2) an African-American. Although the success of The Supremes rivaled that of The Beatles in the 1960s, and Diana’s solo career blazed the trail for every single pop/soul songstress to follow, Miss Ross isn’t always afforded the same respect by critics, or even fans.
It’s hard to summarize the impact she’s had on my life over the past 36 years, but I think fellow readers of this blog can probably understand it better than I could ever explain. Diana’s voice has been a soothing calm at times, a fiery encouragement at others, and always a warm reminder of the many things for which I can be thankful. Her vast catalog is endlessly fascinating to me, and remains inspiring fodder for my writing; just when I think I’ve penned my final words on a recording, that familiar Ross sigh will turn my attention right back to the keyboard, and I’ll find myself stumbling upon an entirely different interpretation of a song I’ve listened to a thousand times.
I’m not sure if Diana Ross has any idea that The Diana Ross Project exists, or if she’d give much thought to the musings of a verbose fan who feels the need to meticulously research every one of her recordings and place them into some kind of historical context. But I hope on this day — her 72nd birthday — she truly understands the role she’s played in shaping the modern world. In writing about her vocal style and the terrific songs she’s chosen to interpret over the years, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the evolution of Civil and Human Rights in the United States and beyond, and realized the importance of having an artist’s voice deliver the basic truths that bind us together as a society.
Happy Birthday…and here’s to many more.