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Motown Museum celebrates Diana Ross' 75th birthday in Royal Oak
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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ROYAL OAK -- Detroit's week for celebrating music legends' birthdays continued on Tuesday night, March 26, this time -- this time honoring the first lady of Motown.



The night after Aretha Franklin's 77th birthday was celebrated posthumously in Detroit, the Motown Museum feted Diana Ross' 75th at the Emagine theater with a special showing of "Diana Ross, Her Life, Love and Legacy," a new documentary about her famed 1983 concerts in New York's Central Park -- the first of which was shortened by a torrential downpour. The low-key evening included a performance by the local Prism Mens Choir, which outnumbered the patrons in the theater as it sang Ross' hit "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Happy Birthday," remarks by Ross' youngest sister Rita and a special videotaped message from Rhonda Ross, Ross' daughter with Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and a member of the Motown Museum board.



"It's a great way for the community to be involved in an international celebration of Diana Ross's 75th birthday," noted the museum's Paul Barker. Ross herself was celebrating in Los Angeles, while the film was screening in more than 700 theaters around the country.



Rita Ross, a civic activist who resides in the Eastern Market area, said that the Detroit celebration "means a lot because my history with Motown is as old as hers." She told the crowd about traveling with the Supremes during the 60s, including on Dick Clark Caravan tours and on Sammy Davis Jr.'s private airplane to the group's first engagement at New York's Copacabana in 1965.



She also noted before the screening that, to her, Ross was still more family than star.



"I don't see her in the same light as everybody else," the younger Ross said. "I see her just as my big sister." Ross added that she expects Diana -- who will perform a year-long series of Golden Jubilee concerts this year -- to continue singing "forever. Our grandfather was 107 when he died, and he was still preaching. She has said she will (perform) forever. I don't know what would stop her."



Barker noted that Diana Ross is "one of the more frequent visitors" among the label's alumni, stopping in when she's on tour or visiting Detroit, often bringing an entourage of musicians and others with her. "She wants them all to see where she got her start," Barker explained, adding that Ross tends to visit "with no special treatment. She'll be there with the other visitors. One of my favorite stories to tell is when a visitor asked her if she was Diana Ross and she said she ways, and they laughed at her and walked away."



"Diana Ross, her Life, Love and Legacy" screens again on Thursday night at theaters around the country, featuring previously unseen footage and new interviews with Ross' children. Details can be found at www.FathomEvents.com.

Web Site: www.FathomEvents.com

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