Diana Ross

With a career spanning 40 years, Ross is one of the best female singers of all time.

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross was born on 26 March 1944 to schoolteacher Ernestine and former US Army soldier Fred Ross SR in Detroit, Michigan. Growing up she wanted to become a fashion designer and studied design, millinery, pattern-making and seamstress skills at Cass Technical High School.

In her teens, she worked at the Hudson Department Store and graduated from school in January 1962. By this point in time, Ross was working in the band 'The Supremes'. In 1959, the manager of doo-wop band 'The Primes' - Milton Jenkins - was convinced to enlist Ross in the sister group 'The Primettes'.

In 1960, the group were signed to Lu Pine Records and released the Ross-led 'Tears of Sorrow' before winning a singing contest in Winnipeg, where they caught the attention of Motown Records CEO Berry Gordy. During the first years of the band, Ross earned money working as Gordy's secretary.

'The Supremes' were born in 1961 after group member Florence Ballard agreed to the new moniker when they signed to Motown records. Barbara Martin left in 1962 making the band a trio and in 1963 Ross was made the lead singer.

'When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes' was the band's first Billboard Top 40 single, which was followed by the number one single 'Where Did Our Love Go'. Between 1964 and 1967 'The Supremes' enjoyed ten number one hit singles.

In July 1967, original member Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong and the group became known as 'Diana Ross & The Supremes' preparing her for a solo career. Television specials, including 'G.I.T On Broadway' (1969) spotlighted Ross as a solo star.

In November 1969, it was confirmed that Ross had left the girl band, with the Supremes 12th and final number one being 'Someday We'll be Together' in 1969. Ross made her final appearance with them on 14 January 1970.

Ross now became a star in her own right with the release of her debut solo album 'Diana Ross' in May 1970, which spawned the singles 'Reach Out and Touch Somebody' and 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', which was her first solo number one and for which she won the Best Pop Vocal Performance Grammy.

'Everything is Everything' was released in 1971 and this saw single 'I'm Still Waiting' reach number one. In January 1971, Ross married music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. She also gave birth to her first child Rhonda on 14 August 1971, whose biological father is Berry Gordy.

Ross had two daughters with Silberstein, Tracee Joy (1972) and Chudney Lane (1975), before the couple divorced in 1977.

During this time, Ross released third album 'Touch Me in the Morning' in 1973, with a duet album alongside Marvin Gaye entitled 'Diana & Marvin' released later that year.

In 1974, 'Last Time I Saw Him' wasn't as successful as her previous records but Ross returned to form with 'Love Hangover' in 1976, 'Baby It's Me' in 1977 and 'Ross' in 1979. In 1981, she left Motown Records and signed one of the most lucrative music contracts ever with RCA.

When her duet with Lionel Richie 'Endless Love' reached number one, Ross became the first woman in music history to chart six number ones. Combining those with the hits she enjoyed with The Supremes, she has achieved 18 number ones throughout her career, the most for any female in recording history.

Ross's career spiked again in 1984 with the release of 'Swept Away' which included a tribute to Marvin Gaye entitled 'Missing You'. Her 1986 album 'Eaten Alive' enjoyed success with the single 'Chain Reaction' but 'The Force Behind the Power' (1991), 'Take Me Higher' (1995) and 'Every Day is a New Day' were not as successful.

In January 1986, Ross had married billionaire Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Naess and they had sons Ross in 1987 and Evan in 1988. They divorced in 2000.

Ross continues to tour the world following the release of her last album 'I Love You' in 2007. From the summer of 2010, Ross went on the road with her 'More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour' and she recently completed a South American tour in 2013.