Meet Ms. Ross
There ain’t no mountain high enough to keep us from seeing the legendary Diana Ross when she makes her first Hawaii concert appearance at Blaisdell Arena. Expect it to be one shining moment — make that two, as she’ll perform June 12 and 13.
Maybe it’s the abundant tresses of goddess hair, maybe the classy way she carries herself, or her large, liquid eyes. Maybe it’s the way those sultry gowns highlight her curving figure. Or maybe it’s that silken voice that has soothed and stirred the heartbeats of more than five decades of music lovers. Glorious Diana Ross, living legend and icon of feminine grace, embodies all of these qualities. And at 71, she’s still lighting up stages and giving audiences a tremendous performance, including right here in Hawaii for the first time.
On June 12 and 13 on Oahu, and 14 and 15 on Maui, expect her full theatrical experience, which fans who’ve witnessed it describe as “absolutely marvelous,” from an elaborate set to dazzling outfits. Then, there’s the heart of it all — her music, those clarion melodies.
From “Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony, a tender melody, pulling me closer, closer to your arms,” to “Set me free, why don’t you, babe? Get out my life, why don’t you, babe? ‘Cause you don’t really love me, you just keep me hangin’ on,” her songs fueled generations of teenagers through their first stirrings of love, through heartache and heartbreak, and self-regeneration.
For those who grew up with her, perhaps there’s an instant hit of nostalgia as you recall inviting a romantic date over and slipping on a Diana Ross record, or singing along while sharing a malted shake with friends, rocking to Ross on roller skates, or choosing her songs as your wedding playlist. No matter where you were in the 1960s and ’70s, you have your vivid memories, like one fan who attended a concert in Philadelphia and recalls The Supremes introducing themselves. When it came to Ross’ turn, she intoned, “… and I’m the sexy one!”
Her songs exploring the vicissitudes of love stand beside weighty tunes such as the soulful Do You Know Where You’re Going To, the theme from her film Mahogany, that taps into a reverie of existential angst while delivering a hint of promise. In Motown and beyond, Ross was a founding mover and shaker in the world of rock and roll. Some of her most popular songs, like You Can’t Hurry Love, Stop! In The Name Of Love and Where Did Our Love Go have gained accolades and recognition from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Now, a proud mother of five grown children and thrilled grandmother with an illustrious career as the most successful female vocalist of all time — as so labeled, not least, by The
Guinness Book of Records — Ross has said that she had no idea she was making history. She was just trying to do her best. She rose from her simple Detroit upbringing to become a groundbreaking cultural role model for young black girls, as Oprah Winfrey has pointed out, as well as a role model for all young women across the globe. With The Supremes in the ’60s, she recorded 12 No. 1 hits. And her solo career, which launched in 1970, produced another six hit singles. As Billie Holliday in the film Lady Sings the Blues, she was nominated for an Oscar and won a Tony Award for her solo Broadway show, An Evening with Diana Ross. Her stellar career on stage, TV and film, and in music genres from R&B and soul to pop, disco and jazz, has seen her inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
A woman shining that bright is well sought after, and to actually be granted some personal time from the lovely Ms. Ross is rare indeed. MidWeek scored with some brief but inspiring words from the queen herself:
MW: You’ve performed with the greatest musicians of your generation and you’ re still going strong. To what do you attribute your staying power?
Ross: I really do love what I do. I love music. I love the interaction with the audience. I love the energy that I feel on stage.
MW: Do you have a philosophy that guides your life?
Ross: LOVE AND JOY.
MW: Oprah once asked you about thoughts on retirement, and you mentioned you’d be going strong as long as your voice holds up. Is it fair to say you have no plans on retiring anytime soon?
Ross: I’ m sure I’ll know when it’s time to taper off. But now is maybe even more exciting than it ever was because I’m older and I appreciate everything so very much.
MW: Compared with much of what’s being newly released on the radio these days, there’s an attractive purity to your music. Your songs ring with clarity and innocence, yet they still strike a deep emotional chord. Do you have any words of wisdom for today’s generation of rising musical talent?
Ross: Write songs from your heart. Perform with joy. Appreciate your life and this gift. Stay true to yourself. Be a good and generous person. Love your Mom and Dad :-)
MW: Is there anything you’d like to say to your Hawaii fans?
Ross: My message is to follow your dream, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
There, she’s done it, she’s referenced one of the most beloved Diana Ross songs of all time. One that latches onto the imagination with promise and purpose, enough to make men daydream and leave women brimming with confidence. If you haven’t heard that particular song in a while, it’s a prime example of her marriage of grace with strength. Her voice soars on golden wings into a vibrato-filled string of disco-era “oohs” and “ahs” before breaking mid-flight into a roaring eruption of her go-get’em chorus that no doubt has carried many of us through some of the more vulnerable moments of our lives. Ross has often mentioned her own special appreciation for songs that are uplifting.
For MidWeek readers, Ross adds:
“I hope to see you all at the performances in Honolulu and on Maui. I love it when I look out from the stage and see your eyes and see your faces and your smiles. I’ll be smiling back at you.”
Hawaii will certainly be smiling, Ms. Ross!