Ross will be the opening performer at Ruth Eckerd Hall on June 22, taking the stage before her mother, Diana Ross. She is the oldest of the singer's five children, and her father is Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. A graduate of Brown University, Rhonda Ross holds a degree in African-American studies with a focus on literature. She is also a writer and actor, known for her role as Toni Burrell on Another World. Ross lives in Harlem with her husband, jazz musician Rodney Kendrick, and their 8-year-old son, Raif-Henok Emmanuel. What the singer-songwriter is bringing to Clearwater, she says, is some jazz, funk and neo-soul. "I consider myself a social artist. I like to speak about the environment around me, the spiritual journey that I'm on and others I know are on. I like to speak to that juggle of life. I write songs that help me untangle what's going on in my life, and I hope they're meaningful things,'' said Ross, 55.
What's on your nightstand?
I'm reading an autobiography by Coretta Scott King, My Life, My Love, My Legacy (by Coretta Scott King and the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds). I got this from the library where I mostly go right now for my son. I really didn't know her history.
What's most interesting so far?
So far I find it most interesting the way she's describing being Martin Luther King's wife. I thought about how I really don't know her life outside of him. She makes mention of something that was a point of contention when he was alive, between them. She did not make him sound like a jerk, but it was her story. Evidently, he would say, "Your job is to take care of me and the kids, and my job is to do God's work.'' And, her argument was, "My job is to do God's work too.'' That was an issue for her in that she had purpose outside of just supporting his purpose.
And do you have another book on your nightstand?
I also just re-read Black Boy by Richard Wright.
Does Wright shed light on something in particular for you?
It would be that Southern experience and also the black experience from another era that I don't have, and also the black male experience, all of that.
I have to ask what book you remember reading with your mom as a child.
There is a book specifically that I remember. It had a yellow front, Hope for the Flowers (by Trina Paulus). I must admit I don't remember every detail, but I remember it as a '70s, Free to Be ... You and Me type of book. She had three daughters for the longest time, my two brothers came when we were teenagers, so I have memories of us in bed reading with her when we were very young.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.