Diana Ross has released a new CD of standard popular hits. The film Dreamgirls has rekindled interest in the Motown women singing groups like the Supremes
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Posted Jan 12th 2007 12:58PM
By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices
When it comes to the black woman who, in my opinion, invented the term "diva," no one does mainstream media blitz like Diana Ross.
On Jan. 16, the legendary Motown Records singer's long awaited new album, 'I Love You,' arrived on U.S. record shelves via Manhattan/EMI -- after being previously released overseas last fall.
So expect to see her promoting the dreamy opus.
The masterfully produced set was recorded at multiple studios in Southern California, New York and London. According to a spokesperson, the Academy Award nominated icon attended every session, from the initial demos to tracking, overdubs and mixing.
The album consists of 14 songs personally selected by Ross in appreciation of their timeless, classic expressions of love and romance. "When I was in the studio, sharing these songs, I was filled with strong emotion" Ross said. "These songs, these singers, these musicians and all my fans are a gift of love to me."
The former Supremes frontwoman puts her special touch on memorable gems such as Marvin Gaye's "I Want You," Bill Withers' "A Lovely Day," The Drifters' "This Magic Moment," Paul McCartney's "I Will," Heatwave's "Always And Forever" and Hal David and Burt Bacharach's oft-covered 'The Look of Love."
Done up in her signature light, airy, whispery pitch, the album is easy listening at its finest.
All of the veteran singers from Rod Stewart to Chaka Khan, from Barry Manilow to Vesta have recorded cover albums over the past few years. It seems to be the latest trend as music listeners discover that what is "old is really new" and vice versa.
"Sometimes the trend works, sometimes it doesn't," notes biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli.
"Even though Rod Stewart has had huge success with it, he sounds real craggy on standard songs -- very odd," he added. " Manilow works fairly well -- though his 60s album seems totally incomplete without any Motown songs on it."
"But Diana fits the mold perfectly," he added.
Through the years, Taraborrelli has chronicled the lives of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace, Cher and The Kennedys in tell-all tomes.
His 1989 expose on Ross, 'Call Her Miss Ross,' was a best-seller, and is considered the most definitive biography on the diva to date.
Two of my favorite tracks from the new album are Ross' wonderful rendition of "To Be Loved," which was written by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and originally recorded by Jackie Wilson in 1958, and her melancholy version on "What About Love" composed by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray from the new Broadway musical 'The Color Purple,' performed by LaChanze and Elisabeth Withers Mendes.
The title track, "I Love You (That's All That Really Matters)," is a gentle ballad that I personally think is one of the most beautiful songs that I've heard in recent years.
Maybe it was all of that dreamy music or an excessive use of ProTools, but Diana Ross has never sounded better -- in recent years.
"Hers is a great album, actually -- her version of Paul McCartney's "I Will" is one of her best recordings -- ever!," Taraborrelli raved. "But it's no surprise. Look, she has been singing all kinds of songs since she was a kid. The Supremes sang Rodgers and Hart back in 1967, she did a 'Funny Girl' album in 1968., 'Ladys Sings the Blues' in 1971. There's no one as versatile as Diana Ross...she can do no wrong when it comes to her music."
Well, I wouldnt say that. But I do get his point.
So what exactly does she do better than anyone else, one may ask.
The answer: Dazzle the media.
There's something about the world legend -- once the big eyed girl from the Detroit projects -- that just continues to captivate us. Maybe it's the sheer fact that --up until her most recent legal run-ins-- she always epitomized what was a representation of success and stardom, glitz and glamour.
But the legend lives on. And so does the media hold.
Next week, the near 63-year old songstress will embark on a full scale media tour, which includes live musical performances on 'Good Morning America,' 'Live with Regis & Kelly' and 'The Late Show with David Letterman' (Jan. 16). She is also confirmed to tape a segment on 'The Martha Stewart Show'(to air on Jan. 26) and sit down with James Lipton for 'Inside The Actor's Studio.' To add to all the frenzy, Taraborrelli's latest biography on Ross, titled 'Diana Ross: The Unauthorized Biography,' will be released next week in U.K., and is expected for U.S. release this spring.
And we thought this type of stuff was just reserved for the likes of Beyonce.
Make way for The Originator!