Fans of Diana Ross received a double-dose of delightful musical treat recently when the super-star entertainer yielded to her daughter Rhonda to open her one-night concert at the Theater at Madison Garden.
A star on the rise, Rhonda emerged from the shadows cast by her mother’s Motown galaxy and in her own right launched into meteoric orbit that is bound to resonate throughout the planet.
On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, Rhonda offered a music mélange far more diverse than imagined and in the process delivered inspirational, motivational and poetic consolation that paid homage to actress Ruby Dee, and poet Maya Angelou.
Modest and stunning in red, Rhonda seemed her mother’s daughter when she tousled a halo of natural hair that shaped an ever-smiling face. With eyes that winked D-I-A-N-A undeniably brandishing the gene that gave her style, like cheekbone structure also reminded Ross-keteers of the young Berry Gordy protégée who broke free from a trio to stand supreme as a Motown legend and super-star.
During a set that personified elegance, charm and grace, Rhonda sang from the heart. Her repertoire included her own compositions and familiar tracks such as “Killing Me softly” ending with her signature composition “It Don’t Matter.”
She also recited from Angelou’s phenomenal poem “I Rise.”
Between her own compositions she inspired the audience to “smell the roses.”
“Give from your overflow not from your reserve,” she urged. It was a message that resonated with mothers and fathers alike.
Fans of the Boss who had never experienced the talented baby love were ecstatic.
The eldest of five children born to Ms. Ross, Rhonda is a Harlem resident who neighbors may know as Mrs. Kendrick. She is married to jazz musician Rodney Kendrick. Born Aug. 14, 1971 in Los Angeles, California, she is mother to four-year-old Raif. And an actress as well.
Although once-considered the love child from a union between Motown founder Gordy and her mother, Rhonda has publicly stated that she only discovered her father’s true identity at the age of 12.
According to reports, she questioned her height – Robert Ellis Silberstein who raised her was 6 feet 9 inches – and she said she was not getting taller. She said she confronted her mother who she said leveled with her.
Rhonda said, “with love you can accomplish anything.”
“She is amazing” a patron said.
“I never expected a real act, a real show, real singing, real music or real entertainment,” he added. “I figured I would just get an opening act. She’s a headliner.”
Backed by a trio of singers and a stellar group of musicians, Rhonda Ross indelibly imprinted her mark on audiences who attended the double-bill Saturday evening concert.
Diana, the alluring Diva, stunned changing five times into outfits that outshined each other. Frilly, sheer and alluring the creations were over-the-top couture but tastefully designed to suit the 70-year-old grandmother, Motown star, actress, singer and legend. Her repertoire paid homage to her role in the Billie Holiday biopic “Lady Sings The Blues,” “The Wiz,” and satisfied an enthusiastic SRO crowd with a medley of Motown hits from the years she led the Supremes trio.
Of the mother teaming, patron Don Thomas said: “I just wish she (Rhonda) would have joined her mother to sing “Reach Out and Touch.”
But it was not meant to be. Instead, Rhonda walked onstage took a bow with her famous mother and together they left the stage savoring in the tumultuous applause that never stopped throughout the icon’s performance.