Diana Ross

Diana Ross: An Inspiration for Generations


Dec. 7 2023, Published 4:21 p.m. ET

A legendary singer, dancer, and fashion icon, Diana Ross was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. The singer has enjoyed a long and successful career. In her heyday, Ross also made appearances in a variety of highly acclaimed on-screen projects.

Throughout her journey to the top, Ross drew inspiration from several famous artists, including Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters, among others. The “I’m Coming Out” singer has also inspired a generation of musicians along the way.

A Meteoric Rise

Ross started her music career at the tender age of 15 – as one part of the Primettes. Before changing the name to The Supremes, the group’s list of members was adjusted several times. However, the arrival of Ross marked a vital turning point for the group. The singer quickly became the main star. Under the guidance of Motown, the girl group was able to rise to previously unimaginable levels of success and fame throughout the ‘60s as they broke through racial and geographic barriers.

As the group’s success waned, Ross decided to start a solo career. She went on to attain even higher levels of success as a solo artist right through the ‘70s and ‘80s. Ross also made a name for herself on television and the big screen.

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Artists Inspired by Diana Ross

Diana Ross has been at the top of her game for more than six decades – managing to stay relevant many years after reaching her peak. As a trailblazer, she has managed to inspire various artists on her way to the top, including:


Both Ross and Madonna share the same roots — hailing from different parts of Michigan. During an interview early in her music career, Madonna revealed, “Ross was a real big inspiration for me.” In the interview, the “Papa Don’t Preach” star also singled out Motown as an influencing force in her work.

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The “Single Ladies” hit singer has always been vocal about how influential Ross has been in her singing and acting career. During her 42nd birthday, Bey gushed, “There would be no me without you.” While embracing the Motown legend on stage after Ross dropped by to sing “Happy Birthday” to the “Crazy in Love” singer.

Bey also mentioned Diana Ross as one of her main inspirations in an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in 2006. In the interview, Beyonce stated, “She’s an all-around entertainer” when talking about Ross. She continued by saying that the Motown first lady was a highly talented singer, dancer, and actress.

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The co-founder and drummer of the Roots, Questlove, named Ross as one of his biggest musical inspirations. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he stated, “I have every [Ross] album.” He also added that he has seen every special ever released by the singer. To demonstrate the depth of her influence in his life, Questlove recalls how his parents would put two or three records of the singer on during his bedtime to put him to sleep.

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