Interview by Danny Coleman
Rhonda Ross wears many hats; singer, actress, speaker, spouse and mom. Currently she is on tour and wearing the hat of daughter/opening act for her mother, Diana and the duo is coming to The Mann Center in Philadelphia, PA for an 8 p.m. show this Saturday July 29.
“I remember when we last spoke I was only on the road with my mother for a few dates,”she said with excitement in her voice. “Well I wound up doing the summer tour and when the opportunity came up again we thought about only six weeks but it turned into more.This is really a little jewel, mother and daughter, people and performers. Last time I only did six shows but this time her and I are doing a whole tour and we’re getting to spend more time together and we’re having a great time.”
Ross’s performances have been called, “Electrifying,” “Passionate” and her lyrics,“Powerful” and “Heartfelt” and these just may be understatements. Never one to deny her bloodline this daughter of Diana Ross and Barry Gordy admits that her upbringing has played a major part in her music career but also says that even though her music is,“Steeped in Jazz with grooving bass lines” and she writes, “Life Lyrics,” Ross never has been one to conform to others expectations.
Case in point, her new record titled, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” is a work that Ross feels allows her to step up and into her own a bit. “This record was self penned, self produced and self financed and I’m really, really proud of it,” she said with confidence.“The same band that is on the album is the same one that I take on tour, they’re great and they know me and the music and we work so well as a unit. I’m the best kept secret of the Ross family,” she said tongue in cheek with a laugh, “And I’m tired of it!”
The title track has a corresponding music video which stars Rhonda, her husband and her son. “Yes, yes that’s my family in the video,” she gushed with enthusiasm. “I’m the Mother Nature Spirit in the video and my son is the young child. He is exposed to all these wonderful things and so many of us are missing them and the video points this out. It was so much fun to do with my own son. When we went to cast, I was asked who would play the part of my son and I said; how about my son (laughs)? I mean, who better; right? It worked out fantastic and was a great experience for all of us.”
An Emmy nominated actress for her past role as Toni Burrell on, “Another World,” Rhonda still considers acting but it’s momentarily on the proverbial back burner. “I haven’t had a lot of time between family, the music and tour but acting is always on my mind, always on my mind because I enjoy it. I’ve written a play but haven’t focused on it due to music at the moment but once that calms down we’ll see where that goes.”
Along with acting, one of her passions is helping young people and she often speaks to them throughout the country at universities and camps all across the globe. “I love speaking engagements and I do them all of the time. I love taking the opportunity to educate young people and letting them know there are no limits to what they can do. I recently spoke in Anchorage, Alaska and I’ll be doing a Motown EDU event and I want the kids to know that they can find meaning in their art; that art and business are both important and that they should be true to who they are in both.”
After a couple of dates on the east coast in August she will be heading over to Europe in September for a two week tour with her husband on piano. When asked about life/work balance, Ross let out a hearty laugh and said, “I’m not sure that I do balance it! I try to stay focused on my priorities. In this business there are a lot of distractions. My priorities are my family first of course, then my careers. I try to attend to everything, my time is never frittered away. I’m not a television watcher or someone who sits idle. I’m very organized and in my spare time I read, meditate and stay focused as best I can.”
Tickets for The Mann Center show range from $41.50 to $129.50 and can be obtained through the venue box office, or Rhonda’s page at www.rhondarosskendrick.com.
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)