Although she's been nominated a grand total of 12 times, legendary singer Diana Ross has yet to win a Grammy in her 50-plus year career. Nevertheless the Recording Academy will honor her with a lifetime achievement award this weekend for her contribution to music.
Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi and Questlove drummer of the The Roots spoke with the L.A. Times Pop and Hiss blog to talk about Diana Ross's legacy and the influence that she's had on their careers.
"I love the way Ms. Ross commands a certain presence without asking for it," said Ledisi. "She can just stand there, look stunning and sing. Her voice is pure and her phrases would end with that little girl smile. She knows how to play on every emotion through a song and at the same time embrace her audience. She does all that while being seductive in a subtle way. I still have not seen anyone else do that. She speaks volumes with simplicity, always giving just enough to leave you wanting more. That’s power."
"Ms. Ross is, of course, the ultimate supreme diva, but she extends far beyond that in my opinion," Ledisi continued. "She so clearly loves doing what she does — singing, acting, performing on stage — while at the same time being a trailblazer, fusing all of her talents into one amazing vessel. And she did it during a time that not many Black people, especially Black women, were doing it."
Quest reminisced on Diana Ross's classic 1979 HBO concert special and the impact that performance has on him as a kid.
"You don’t know how much that intro haunts me," he shared. "I know there’s been an elevated level of making grand entrances, especially the way that Michael Jackson elevated it in the '80s and '90s. And with technology today, there are even more grandiose entrances. But something about seeing her come down an endless flight of stairs and then come through the screen, and then leave the same way with five people carrying her, had a very extreme, eerie effect on me. That image is stuck in my head. Maybe it was just being eight years old. You tend to become a massive sponge when you’re in those formative years and you remember things. They affect you deeply."
"It’s different from me watching it now in my early 40s and thinking, 'Oh, that’s nice,' Quest continued. "But to see it then, I would just rewind it over and over. I was amazed at how they coordinated it all. Beyoncé herself said that was one of her favorite bits of Diana Ross footage to kind of emulate and follow. Diana Ross definitely holds a special place in my childhood years."
Ross will be the recipient of the Grammy Award's Lifetime Achievement Award as part of The Supremes and as a solo artist.
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