BLACK HISTORY MONTH: February 1, 2023 – the INCOMPARABLE Miss Ross!

As Diana grew, she wasn't afraid to stand up for she believed.

Early on in her career, Diana Ross was dubbed “The First Lady of Motown,” starting her success with the Supremes, and continuing in the ’70s on a solo tear.  But by the end of the ’70s, her string of hits had slowed; she had shown signs that she wasn’t as cutting edge as newer artists like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and the like.

Alas, Diana asked for a reboot – and she got it.

Enter Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the leaders of Chic.  Coming off a successful run of songs like “Good Times” and “Le Freak,” they thought they had exactly what it took to bring Diana’s career back to the forefront.  They were right; at least half right. 🙂

Their writing skills on “Upside Down” gave Diana a fresh sound she was looking for – and they thought they had hit gold.

Their version features a more prominent reverb / echo sound on Diana’s voice, the vibes underneath all verses and choruses, and some slight vocal runs that sound just a BIT different.

Only problem: Diana didn’t like it.  And when you’re working with Diana Ross, that’s a problem for you.

Studio squabbles lead to an ultimatum: “Diana, you don’t like it, you remix it!”  That was a threat both Edwards and Rodgers didn’t think would come true.  But Diana has a certain amount of drive that wouldn’t be squashed.  Alas…

Diana’s vocals are crisper, which lets them POP off the rest of the track and makes them easier to ear.  The vibes are replaced by a stronger electric piano in bridge portions and eliminated in the chorus.

Turns out, Diana was right.  She trusted her gut, and showed female musicians and songwriters everywhere, it was OKAY to question authority.  The song was a #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in dozens of other countries.

So today, here’s to Diana; not ever giving in to what others thought.  She blazed a trail for SO many other musicians, and THAT – THAT is to be saluted!


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