Diana Ross still feels adventure in touring

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ENDLESS LOVE
Who: Diana Ross
When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23
Where: Green Music Center, 1801 E.ast Cotati Ave.nue, Rohnert Park
Tickets: $25 to $225, SSU students get 50 percent discount
Information: gmc.sonoma.edu

Videos:

Diana Ross interviewed by Barbara Walters

Medley of 23 Diana Ross hits

Oprah Winfrey: Diana Ross was my role model

Having Diana Ross appear at the Green Music Center is like having royalty visit the North Bay.

It’s a rare occasion — Ross has appeared in Sonoma County only once before (in 2007), according to concert producer Rick Bartalini — and it’s special to see one of Motown’s legends in a relatively small venue.

Ross, who turned 70 last March, rocketed to fame in the early 1960s as the lead singer for The Supremes. Her pristine voice, at once vulnerable and insistent, and stylish costumes won her and the band legions of fans.

With Ross emerging as a superstar, The Supremes scored a slew of hits, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Someday We’ll Be Together.”

During the 1960s, The Supremes had more hit records in the U.S. than any band except The Beatles, according to ABC News. More than the Stones, more than Dylan, more than The Beach Boys.

In 1970, at the urging of Motown executive Berry Gordy, Ross began a highly successful solo career with the chart-topper, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Gordy and Ross had become involved romantically in the mid-1960s and in 1971 had a daughter, her first child, Rhonda.

In 1972, Ross played Billie Holiday in the film, “Lady Sings the Blues,” a critical and commercial success for which she won a Golden Globe for best actress and was nominated for an Academy Award. Later in the 1970s, she starred in “Mahogany” and “The Wiz.”

Ross has been a role model for young black women, giving them a sense, as Oprah Winfrey noted on her show, that the sky’s the limit and anyone can make it.

“That’s really what I’ve always wanted to stand for,” Ross told Barbara Walters in an interview on ABC’s “20/20” in 2000.

“It’s about what we did during a time when it was really difficult for white America to accept black music. They called it race music. We were able to bridge a gap,” Ross said. “I’m proud of what we stood for.”

She’s won a Tony award, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 2007 was honored by the prestigious Kennedy Center and in 2012 received a Grammy lifetime achievement award — her first Grammy.

Ross has a busy family life, too. Her son, Evan Ross, married singer Ashlee Simpson on the final weekend of August, and she (Ross) was very involved in the wedding planning,

Ross doesn’t do many interviews, but last spring she answered some questions in a session with her publicist, published in June on the Michigan-based site mlive.com.

On why she still tours: “I am hoping that every one of my performances feels like a celebration,” Ross said. “Each place, even though I might be returning, it feels brand new. And it’s like a new adventure. I tour because I enjoy it, and I am having fun.”

On her band: “My band and I have been together for a very long time. We’re like family.”

On taking care of her crew: “I am the producer, the organizer. I am also the parent or mother on the road because I care about everyone. I want to make sure they are all well. I try to take care of them. The mothering part of me becomes very much a part of the actual touring.”

On managing all aspects of her shows: I am involved in the selection of music, of course my costumes, the lighting and setting. … I have always been interested in the precision of the work, the ‘harmony’ of what we do; it has to all work together. It’s like a piece of music.”

On the size of the venue: “It doesn’t matter to me if I am in a stadium with thousands of people or in a much smaller venue. My interaction is with the audience on a one-to-one. I always try to see their faces and their eyes. … Music is like love. It feels good. It’s about sharing. It’s very special. Music is like the heartbeat of our world.”

On fame: “Ever since I was a girl, I always loved to sing and perform. The one thing I have never understood is searching for fame. To me fame is not a career. You do the work you do … because you love it.”

Michael Shapiro, author of “A Sense of Place,” writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. Contact him through his website: www.michaelshapiro.net.

ENDLESS LOVE
Who: Diana Ross
When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23
Where: Green Music Center, 1801 E.ast Cotati Ave.nue, Rohnert Park
Tickets: $25 to $225, SSU students get 50 percent discount
Information: gmc.sonoma.edu

Videos:

Diana Ross interviewed by Barbara Walters

Medley of 23 Diana Ross hits

Oprah Winfrey: Diana Ross was my role model

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