She's been a major star for a half-century. She's won Tony and Emmy awards, she's been nominated for Oscars and Grammys and she's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She's even had a playground in New York City named after her. Billboard magazine proclaimed her "the female entertainer of the century."
So even though it's been decades since she's had a hit single, Diana Ross is still a major concert draw.
She's such a big deal, in fact, that Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is starting its season off earlier than usual in order to host her concert, which is set for Wednesday.
Van Wezel officials usually wait until October, when more seasonal visitors are in town, to kick off the season. And the next show in the 2013-14 season, after Ross, isn't until Oct. 27. But Ross is so popular that she'll probably pack the place even in early September.
Ross, of course, shot to fame as the charismatic lead singer of the Supremes in the early '60s, and went on to long, successful solo music career and a short but remarkable period as a movie actor. She stunned audiences and critics in her film debut as Billie Holiday in "Lady Sings the Blues" and became one of the first African-Americans to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. A few years later, in 1977, she won a Tony for "An Evening With Diana Ross."
From "Baby Love" to "Endless Love," Ross recorded an astounding number of great songs that still sound great today, and by all accounts her live shows are phenomenal. It should be a great way to kick off the new performing arts season.
Details: 8 p.m. Sept. 11, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $85-$105. Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear