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Iconic diva Diana Ross talks about her love for the Big Apple ahead of her NYC residency

By Dustin Fitzharris
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Stars come and go, but Diana Ross remains a force. After a sold-out residency in February at the Venetian in Las Vegas, she returns to NYC on Monday 24 for five shows at New York City Center. With timeless songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Upside Down,” the diva promises to take audiences through countless memories. In a rare and exclusive interview, Ross reflects on her love for the city that never sleeps.

Photograph: Courtesy Randee St. Nicolas

You’re performing in New York at City Center. What do you want audiences to take away from your shows?
What I receive each night that I perform is the joy of being able to do what I am very passionate about. It feels as if it's my purpose. I really have such a great time with all this, especially when I am in a place of fun and good vibrations. I think the audience also feels the same. I know when people come out to see a show they have their own personal and special memories of the songs and the music. They come to have a great time and that is my intention.

Even though you are from Detroit, New York has adopted you as one of their own. What does New York mean to you? 
I love New York! Remember the song "New York State of Mind?" New York is an energy. It's a classy sophistication. It's alive 24 seven. It's magical. I think it's true that the city never sleeps. You can be out at 4 a.m. and the streets are filled with people going somewhere and doing things. Fantastic! I love being in that energy. I also have great memories of the Central Park show and being caught in that downpour rain. Absolutely incredible memories.

New York is filled with such diversity. What do you like to do for fun in New York?
I do love the diversity and the different cultures of New York. I love all the museums. I love the great restaurants--so many variations. I really love going to the theater. I love going shopping. I love Rizzoli's bookstore. I love the art world. And, of course, I love the fashion world! I have family in New York, so I still spend time there with my grandchildren. I really love that you can be a celebrity and walk down the streets of New York and you're just one of the millions of people moving through the energy.

You gave one of the most famous concerts ever in Central Park in 1983. You braved the elements and kept the audience calm during a torrential storm. What did you learn from that concert?
I prayed a lot during that concert.  I wanted only joy and fun for everyone.

That concert raised money to build a playground. Why was building a playground in Central Park important to you?
I have a dream that I want to build children's playgrounds all over the United States. I was able to do that for New York City after the Central Park show. We built a children's playground inside the park at West 81st St. and Central Park West. And, it's still there. It's so nice to have a dream. 

You won a Tony Award for your one-woman Broadway show, “An Evening with Diana Ross,” at the Palace Theatre. What do you most remember about your time on Broadway?
It's nice to win stuff.  But, to me it's not about winning, it's about wanting to be at the top of your performance by giving and receiving the love. 

You have raised five successful children. What is one of the greatest pieces of advice you’ve given them?
Thank you for that. I do the best that I can by being a good example...and I love them unconditionally.

Diana Ross performs at New York City Center Mon 24–Apr 26, 28 and 29 (nycitycenter.org). $59.50–$300.

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