Celebrating Diana Ross at 78

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A Nigerian writer’s birthday tribute to the ageless American singer, Diana Ross, who was declared by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful female music artist in history.

By Inemesit Ina

Good old Diana,

I write to celebrate you on your 78th birthday on Saturday, March 26, 2022. This letter has been Something On My Mind even before your birthday.

The music world stood still on Saturday to appreciate you for all the good things you have done. Indeed, it was All For One, One For All.

You may not have Muscles but you are undoubtedly the Force Behind The Power Rhythm and Blues (R&B) genre of music has worldwide. You Are Everything and you reign supreme.

From your looks, it is hard to believe that you are So Close to 80. You look Forever Young. Besides, You Are So Beautiful.

After listening to you, All Of My Life, it is with so much joy that I Am Coming Out to tell you that It’s My Turn to thank you for musically giving me The Best Years Of My Life. In doing so, as you have noticed already, I am using your songs, 43 in all.

I want to let you know that I am Still In Love with your scintillating music. Truly, I love your music More Today Than Yesterday. Each day, your evergreen songs Touch Me In The Morning. You bring light Where There Was Darkness. It seems, musically, I Won’t Last A Day Without You. And I can declare that You Got It.

I must confess that one of my ambitions in my life is to watch you perform live physically with my family who, too, have Endless Love for you and share your view that Love’s All That Matters. They are Waiting In The Wings.

I missed an opportunity to see you live in January 2006 when you performed at Thisday Awards in Lagos, the commercial capital of my country, Nigeria. Of course, I did not Blame It On The Sun. Pressing duties at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Uyo, where I worked then, prevented me from being there. That night, I had to make do with watching you on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network from My Place, sorry, my Home. You did not disappoint. It was One Shining Moment that the cream of Nigerian society, including then Governor of my neighbouring state, Cross River State, Donald Duke, himself a musician of the jazz genre, sang along as you thrilled them with your songs and jokes. I have done everything to get that video from Thisday since then without success. It reached a point I was ready to pay anything for it.

Increasingly, I am convinced that Ain’t No Mountain High Enough can prevent me from achieving my ambition of watching you live. The day I do so, I would love to meet you backstage or in your dressing room and announce, Here I Am, your biggest fan in Nigeria, if not Africa. And I would crave you to Confide In Me the secret of your staying power in the music industry.

Great diva, you hold the record of the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest female music artist of all time. It may interest you to know that I am working at equally making it into the Guinness Book. I aim to be the biggest collector of R&B music videos in the world. In the last 12 years, I have collected thousands of such videos and it is still work in progress.

The videos include those of your proteges, late Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, and your contemporaries such as The Queen of Soul, late Aretha Franklin, The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, The Godmother of Soul, Patti LaBelle, and the three blind geniuses, late Ray Charles, Clarence Carter and Stevie Wonder.

Still in my collection are videos of your contemporaries and near-contemporaries like Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, The Three Degrees, late Betty Wright, Millie Jackson, late Minnie Riperton, late Natalie Cole, late Syreeta Wright, Thelma Houston, Chaka Khan, Randy Crawford, Deniece Williams, Stephanie Mills, Gloria Gaynor, Candi Staton, Cissy Houston, Linda Lewis, late Donna Summer, late Phyllis Hyman, Sister Sledge, The Pointer Sisters, Charlene, late Marvin Gaye, Little Anthony, The Manhattans, late Lou Rawls, The Stylistics, Lionel Richie, late Teddy Pendergrass, late Barry White and late Isaac Hayes.

I also have videos of more recent acts like Stacy Lattisaw, Gloria Estefan, Janet Jackson, Angela Bofill, Vanessa Williams, late Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Rachelle Ferrelle, Regina Belle, Mary J. Blige, Tamia, Deborah Cox, Shanice, Carol Lynn Townes, Karyn White, CeCe Peniston, Miki Howard, Brandy, Monica, Celine Dion, Beyonce Knowles, Atlantic Starr, New Edition, Boyz II Men, New Kids On The Block, late Prince, Peabo Bryson, Ray Parker Jr, Jeffrey Osborne, late James Ingram, Freddie Jackson, Billy Ocean, Gregory Abbott, Kenny (Babyface) Edmonds, Ricardo and Friends, among others.

Of course, your videos constitute the highest in my collection because you are on Top Of The World of R&B music as Guinness Book confirmed. You are the greatest. As we say in Nigerian pidgin English, After You, na you. Indeed, That’s Why I Call You My Friend though we have never met.

I have All The Befores. And as you clock 78, I am Cryin’ My Heart For You from All Of Me to All Of You to make more music for us, your fervent fans, since you appear ageless with your voice intact. I Am Still Waiting. What I am doing now is to Keep An Eye on when Lady Sings The Blues again.

I trust you will do so. You have the Experience. Therefore, I do not need to ask, Do You Know Where You Are Going To? I am certain that you will Ease On Down The Road.

So, You Do It. Please Take Me Higher to the moon and back with sweet music.

Happy birthday.

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