BWW Review: Diana Ross with the National Symphony Orchestra, Emil de Cou Conductor at Kennedy Center
For almost fifty years, legendary, award-winning, pop goddess Diana Ross has been wowing audiences. Last night she finally performed in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with DC's living musical treasure, the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO).
Her concert, entitled All the Best of Times, began with a brief overture under the baton of Maestro Emil de Cou. Diana Ross then roared onstage with "I'm Coming Out," and did she ever. When she removed her long feather type boa, she revealed a shimmery ensemble.
The concert featured many of Ross' biggest hits including "It's My Turn," "Why do Fools Fall in Love," and of course "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Her voice is as good as it ever was, if not better. Many performers lose their power and resonance with age, but Ross is still singing at full throttle after all these years.
I found it interesting that she performed "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz considering the film got pretty well slammed in the press as did Ross for being too old to play Dorothy. She was 33 at the time. She sounded excellent on this number.
Ross's torchy performance of "The Man I Love" happily reminded us that she is a wonderful interpreter of The Great American Songbook.
My favorite number of the evening was "Don't Explain," and here's why. Ross' vocal was of course stellar, but the number also featured three soloists, including NSO members Chris Vadala (saxophone) and Dave Detweiler (trumpet), and Ross' keyboardist George Svitech. When instrumentalists are featured, you score big with me. The rest of Ross' superb rhythm section includes CC Thomas (bass/Musical Director), Gerry Brown (drums), Michael Seacrest (guitar), Roland Garcia (percussion), and John Scarpulla (sax).
Ross was backed by a killer trio of backup singers, Valerie Pinkston, Lamont Hook, and Freddy White. During Ross' elaborate costume changes, they stepped down front and kept the audience on their feet while waiting for Ms. Ross to return. The show was expertly mixed by Peter Auslan.
Diana Ross' concert had very little patter between numbers, which was most welcome. She effortlessly moved from one song to the next with class and style. This is one of the reasons why she is still in such high demand. To give you an idea, her next gig after this weekend is performing at the White House for the Obamas.
All in all, the audience walked out of Diana Ross's concert with a "Love Hangover". You feel no pain, just pure joy. That pretty well sums up the evening.
Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission.
Diana Ross with the National Symphony Orchestra runs through December 3rd 2016 in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center which is located at 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC. The concerts are sold out, but to check for cancellations, click here.