Beyoncé may be the diva of the day, but the playbook that brought Bey to queendom was written largely, if not entirely, by Diana Ross.
Rising to stardom as the lead in a girl group? Check. Striking out on her own to become a solo sensation? Check. That journey guided by a generational voice, with plenty of costume changes along the way? Check and check.
No matter your definition of “diva,” Ross fits the bill as well as anyone has, does, or ever will. Since the age of 16, the Detroit native has dazzled audiences the world over with her vivacious spirit, her vibrant costumes and, of course, her brilliant vocals.
All of that is as true as ever at age 78. Diana Ross put her ageless talent (and tenacity) on full display at the Hollywood Bowl, where she kicked off the American portion of her world tour in support of her new album, Thank You, with a performance that showcased her ever-impressive range as a defining diva.
Following an engaging opening set from Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry, the longtime Queen of Motown resumed her reign with a run of what can only be described as absolute bangers. From coming out to, well, “Coming Out” and bouncing around to her cover of Spiral Staircase’s “More Today Than Yesterday” to spinning out chart-topping hits from the Supremes—including “Come See About Me,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Love Child”—Ross had a packed house of 17,000-plus patrons out of their seats and on their feet. And that was all before the first wardrobe break, each of which took place inside a curtained box on the left side of the stage.
From there, Diana dove deep into her catalog to unearth ageless classics and new favorites alike. There were disco standards like “It’s My House” and “Upside Down”, which had the house lit in the now-common colloquial sense—as well as ballads like “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”, which had the crowd waving their phone lights to form cellular constellations. There were nods to her crossover into acting, including “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz, the theme from Mahogany, and “Don’t Explain”, from Diana’s role as Billie Holiday, one of the original divas, in Lady Sings the Blues.
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With the second costume change came a shift toward material from her 2021 release, Thank You, which was borne of gratitude for her fans and, to some degree, boredom without the ability to tour during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those tracks, especially “Tomorrow” and “If the World Just Danced”, are imbued with a degree of broader consciousness, something for which she may not always be known but of which she is certainly capable.
Not that Diana Ross has ever been shy. She interacted a bit with the audience—particularly her youngest son, Evan, to whom she sang “Beautiful Love” on his birthday—and much more with the production crew, critiquing the overuse of lights and inability to hear her own band at times.
In spite (or maybe because?) of those challenges, Diana persevered to shine bright on every song she sang and in every outfit she wore. After busting out her iconic rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” she fittingly closed out the show with a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” that wove in a piece of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win”.
Indeed, Diana Ross has been winning for a long, long, long time. After 62 years in the business, she stands as one of the most successful musicians ever, regardless of demographic. And if her latest bout with the technical elements at the Hollywood Bowl was any indication, she still has plenty of skill and spunk to keep going as a world-class performer, even as she approaches the age of 80.
Click below to check out a selection of fan-shot videos from the performance. For a complete list of upcoming Diana Ross tour dates, head here. For a complete list of upcoming shows at Hollywood Bowl, head here.
Diana Ross – “Come See About Me” – 8/26/22
[Video: Brian James]
Diana Ross – “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” (Theme From Mahogany) – 8/26/22
[Video: Brian James]
Diana Ross – “Beautiful Love” – 8/26/22
[Video: Brian James]
Diana Ross – “The Boss” – 8/26/22