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“The Boss” brings greatest hits to area

Stacy M. Brown | 8/9/2013, 8:48 a.m.
Diana Ross Courtesy photo

No mountain, or rain, nor summer heat, will keep Diana Ross from recreating her glitzy and glamorous shows of bygone years, when she steps onto the stage locally.

Affectionately known as, “The Boss,” the singer, actress and first lady of Motown is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia.

The last time Ross performed in this area, was at the Music Center at Strathmore, where she wowed an intimate crowd with some of her greatest hits. “It was the bomb,” Edgewood resident Guy Barrow said. “I’m going down to Virginia because I don’t know if she’s coming back this way.”

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I'm Coming Out - Diana Ross: Live In Central Park

Superstar Diana Ross performed a legendary concert in New York City's Central Park in 1983

Superstar Diana Ross performed a legendary concert in New York City's Central Park in 1983

Camille Cintron, a spokesperson for Wolf Trap says that the more than 7,000-seat venue is expected to be filled to capacity for the concert.

Earth, Wind & Fire, The Four Tops, The Temptations, and Comedian Bill Cosby are among the showbiz elite to have performed at Wolf Trap this season. However, Ross’ appearance might be the most anticipated of all. “This show has proven to be very popular,” Cintron said.

Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 1944, Ross grew up in a housing project. As a child, she began singing in the choirs of Baptist churches throughout the Motor City.

At 15, Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Barbara Martin formed the vocal group, The Primettes. Martin left the group shortly before the remaining members signed a recording contract with Motown Records. The trio emerged as the Supremes, the most celebrated female group in music history.

Ross ultimately took over as lead singer and Motown changed the group’s name to, “Diana Ross and the Supremes.” From 1965 to 1969, the Supremes released a string of No. 1 records, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Nothing But Heartaches,” and “Reflections.”

Ballard was replaced in 1967 by Cindy Birdsong and, in 1970, Ross left to begin a solo career.

The then-budding superstar worked with the songwriting team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and her first two songs, “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” topped the Billboard music charts and earned Ross her first Grammy nominations.

“I think when we produced the first Diana Ross solo album, it was a big step for us. That is when I felt we had arrived,” said Simpson, who with the late Nick Ashford wrote a plethora of hit songs for artists at Motown and other labels.

In 1972, Ross portrayed Billie Holiday in the biopic, “Lady Sings the Blues,” which led to her first Academy Award nomination, with co-stars Billy Dee Williams, and the late Richard Pryor who portrayed “Piano Man.”

In 1975, she starred in, “Mahogany,” a movie about a poor African-American woman who achieved unrivaled success as a fashion designer in Rome. In 1976, Ross dazzled as the lead in, “The Wiz,” an urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum’s, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Penned by Lionel Richie for the Franco Zeffirelli film of the same name, Ross’ single, “Endless Love,” held the top spot on Billboard’s music charts for nine weeks. Earlier this year, Billboard named, “Endless Love,” the No. 1 love song of all time.

Last month, various media outlets, including a two-page New York Daily News feature, paid tribute to the 30th anniversary of Ross’ historic Central Park concert.

For the Wolf Trap show, Ross is expected to cover the various periods of her career in chronological order: Supreme, Diva, Disco Queen and Jazz Chanteuse. Her set list includes hits like, “I’m Coming Out,” Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Upside Down,” “Do You Know Where You’re Going To,” “Endless Love,” and the Michael Jackson-penned, “Muscles.” The singer is also expected to pay tribute to her idol, Billie Holiday, by covering the late Jazz legend’s “Fine and Mellow” and “Don’t Explain.”

“I’ve had the privilege of seeing Ross in concert,” said veteran music writer Jim Harrington. “I can attest that she knows how to put on a thoroughly entertaining show.”

Tickets may be purchased online at: www.wolftrap.org or 1-877-965-3872.