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NSO Pops: Diana Ross – Music Book 2020 ~ The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Jordan Wright
January 9, 2020

Backed by the 25-member The Joyce Garrett Singers, a DC-based gospel choir, the iconic National Symphony Orchestra, and four back-up vocalists, Diana Ross strode onstage to the tune “I’m Coming Out”, her signature walk-on entrance.  Swathed in a tangerine-hued, ruffled silk cape and molten orange floor-length gown, the magnificent pop diva claimed the night with her beauty, musicality and charm.

Diana Ross

Tossing her ebony ringlets, she enraptured a full house of fans in the Concert Hall.  Shimmying and shaking to the beat and shouting out “We love you. Diana!” from their seats, fans were thrilled to hear a selection from many of her biggest hits.  Twenty-two numbers formed her wide-ranging repertoire Friday night.  “Your Love”, from a rare box set recorded over two decades ago, “He Lives in You”, and “Voice of the Heart”, all rarely heard in concert, were well received.  More familiar songs were “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “Touch Me in the Morning”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Love Hangover”, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” (the Frankie Lyman hit), and “I Will Survive” that had the orchestra temporarily flat-footed, until she asked them to crank up the beat.

Easily segueing from pop and R&B to jazz, ballads and disco, the legendary diva offered up a few of her greatest film score hits – “Home” and “Ease on Down the Road from The Wiz; “If We Hold On Together” from A Land Before Time;  “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” from Mahogany; and a personal favorite in which she shows off her silken jazz voice, “The Man I Love” from Lady Sings the Blues.  A 1996 memorable performance from Super Bowl XXX brought knowing applause with “Take Me Higher”, a song that culminated in her being whisked away by helicopter.

It’s pointless to review a Diana Ross concert without mentioning her fabulous ensembles.  Four glamorous gown changes showed off her svelte figure, most surprising was the final gown – a steel blue, full-skirted satin gown with exposed strapless bodice that she had once worn to a pre-inaugural concert for President Clinton.

Miss Ross spoke excitedly of her upcoming tour that takes her throughout the American South before heading to Las Vegas.  This June she will appear at the UK’s famed Glastonbury Festival 2020 playing the fabled “legends” slot, before heading to Ireland and returning to England for several more dates.  Miss Ross has not toured the continent in many years and said she was eager to return.

As one of the most successful singers of her generation, she enjoys a performing arts career spanning over 50 years.  An award-winning singer and actress, Miss Ross is known for leading The Supremes, as well as her chart-topping solo career.  She has received the Guinness World Record for her international success of having more hits than any other female artist on the charts, inductions into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2007, a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award, and countless other accolades and awards.

Conducted by Emil De Cou.

Final Washington, DC concert date is Saturday, January 11th at 8pm at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St., NW, Washington, DC.  For tickets and information call 202 467-4600 or visit www.Kennedy-Center.org.

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