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‘My Sister Sang with No Problem’: Tracee Ellis Ross Reveals Why She Refused to Sing After Famous Mom Diana Ross Asked Her To

Tracee Ellis Ross is dropping a new single called “Legacy” in celebration of her hair care line Pattern Beauty. The song talks about the heritage of Black hair and those common experiences Black and brown women share when getting their hair done. It is also a play on her life as the daughter of the living legend and Motown recording artist, Diana Ross.

Ross was one of the premier voices in Black music, and the lead of one of the best-selling female singing groups of all time.

One might think, just as cornrows, grease, and hot combs are a part of Black legacy she has easily embraced, so would be soulful singing … especially considering who her mom is.

However, on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” she revealed that she is a reluctant vocalist and had to be pushed a little bit to take the mic.

“It makes me nervous and sweaty,” the 49-year-old said with an uncomfortable smile. “Singing makes me nervous and sweaty.”

Host Jimmy Fallon questioned her, saying, “But you’re a great singer?”

“I come from a legacy of quite a powerhouse singer lady,” she answers. “Have you heard of her? She’s just a little global treasure.”

Fallon then brings up a time when her mom asked her to sing with her on the big stage at a concert when she was a little girl. The “Black-ish” star said that she did remember it and desperately she didn’t want to sing.

She recalled, “I said, ‘No, ma’am.’”

“I actually really do [remember] because my sister, Rhonda, sang [with] no problem.”

The memory brought a softened smile to her face as she remembered her grandmother, who has since transitioned, was in attendance at the concert.

Fallon showed the clip for the audience to watch. In it, the three daughters— Ellis Ross, Rhonda Ross Kendrick, and Chudney Ross— are standing on chairs at a table in the center of this banquet-setting performance. 

Ellis Ross’ older sister, an artist in her own right who has made a career in entertainment for herself as a singer and actress best known for her role as Toni Burrell on the soap opera “Another World,” sang her version of their mom’s 1970’s hit “Reach Out and Touch.” 

Ellis Ross, whose hair was styled in two puffy pompoms as she was wearing a pair of big-framed glasses, refused.

“[I had on] giant glasses and was like ‘no, no, no, no, no.’” she said as she retold the story. “I was so shy.”

She said that it was not until she made it to high school that she embraced her gift of singing. She said that she sang at a talent show in high school, but the worst thing that could possibly happen actually made her become more confident and supported.

“I started too high, and my voice cracked,” she said, but her friends in the assembly had her back.

“The entire school was like ‘Tracee, Tracee.’ My friend had to come on stage and hug me. And then I tried again.”

Despite that show of encouragement, the singer said she took a break from singing for the next 35 years.

That might not be all the way true. While she has always been afraid to sing, she has sung professionally over the last few years.

In 2020, the “Girlfriends” actress starred in a movie called “The High Note,” where she portrays an R&B superstar singer who was stuck in her career artistically. For the role, she was asked to sing six original songs and had to work with a vocal coach to perfect each rendering.

She told The New York Times, “I have always wanted to sing, and I also have always really wanted the right movie to come along. It was purposeful and also magical that this was a special enough role to encourage me to walk through my terror.”

Ellis Ross told Entertainment Weekly that she has “always been terrified of singing” and to get around the jitters she would goof around with the song to take the edge off.

With her award-winning show “Black-ish” swiftly coming to an end, her hair care line thriving online and in retail stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Target, and a new song on the market, it seems that she is no longer has a need to be goofy or “silly” when it comes to facing new challenges. 

Now, she has the skills, and the legacy of her own, to take the mic and run with it.


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