On my way to becoming one half of the 1970’s disco group “Peaches & Herb“, a shining star captivated me with her million dollar smile and great charisma – Diana Ross! I grew up dreaming of doing what she did in a powerful way!
I admired how she shone with style and class, and was brave enough to make the career choice to go solo. I was later faced with the same decision at the height of success, and although my life took a different path, I admired her greatly for blazing that pathway.
Diana followed her heart – she had a dream of leaving the slums of Detroit and becoming a popular singer. She achieved that dream, becoming one of America’s most beloved pop stars! Her smile lit up the world. Her music helped to usher in a refreshing new order of pop music appreciated by both black and white audiences, which in turn took her songs to the top of the charts!
In the 1971 movie Lady Sings the Blues, she gave me, along with countless others, a love for the songs Billy Holiday made famous. Diana won critical acclaim for her performance in the film. Leonard Feather, a jazz critic and a friend of Holiday’s, said she did a fantastic job, “expertly capturing the essence of Lady Day.” Diana also won a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The soundtrack for the film reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
I remember singing every Supreme song growing up and playing them on the piano in my teens. By the time she left the Supremes to become Diana Ross, I was (and still am) a huge fan.
While living one of my dreams-come-true moments working with Sammy Davis Jr. at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, I got a knock on my dressing room door. Someone wanted to congratulate me on my show. Guess who that was? Yep! The Boss, Ms. Ross! As beautiful an artist and as wonderful a person as I believed she would be! I will never forget that moment!