Diane Ernestine "Diana" Ross (born March 26, 1944) is a recording artist, actress, and entertainer. During the 1960s, she helped shape the Motown Sound as lead singer of The Supremes before leaving for a solo career in the beginning of 1970. Since the beginning of her career with The Supremes and as a solo artist, Diana Ross has sold more than 100 million records.
During the 1970s and through the mid 1980s, Ross was one of the most successful female artists of the rock era, crossing over into film, television and Broadway. She received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her 1972 role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. She won a Golden Globe award for Lady Sings the Blues. She won American Music Awards, garnered twelve Grammy Award nominations, and won a Tony Award for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross in 1977.
In 1976, Billboard magazine named her the "Female Entertainer of the Century." The Guinness Book Of World Records declared Diana Ross as the most successful female music artist of the 20th century with a total of eighteen American number-one singles: twelve as lead singer of The Supremes and six as a soloist. Ross was the first female solo artist to score six number-ones. This feat puts her in a tie for fifth place among solo female artists with the most No. 1s on the Hot 100. She is also one of the few recording artists to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame--one as a solo artist and the other as a member of the trio "The Supremes." In December 2007, she received a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Honors Award.
Including her work with the Supremes, Ross has recorded 61 studio albums.
Diane Ernestine Ross, the daughter of a former United States Army soldier from Bluefield, West Virginia and a schoolteacher from Bessemer, Alabama, was born at Hutzel Women's Hospital, in Detroit, Michigan. After living on Detroit's St. Antoine street, Ross' family eventually settled at the low-income Brewster-Douglass housing projects. Ross aspired to be a fashion designer and learned how to design and sew clothes while attending Cass Technical High School in Midtown Detroit.
In 1959 Ross was brought to the attention of Milton Jenkins, the manager of the local doo-wop group The Primes, by friend Mary Wilson. According to sources, Primes member Paul Williams convinced Jenkins to enlist Ross in the sister group The Primettes, which included Wilson, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown. Ross, Wilson and Ballard each sang lead during live performances and in 1960, the group signed with Lupine Records where the label issued the Ross-led single "Tears of Sorrow" b/w the Wilson-led "Pretty Baby". The single, however, flopped.