The legendary singer, set to headline the Essence Festival on June 30, opens up about performing and family

By Janine Rubenstein
June 15, 2017 01:25 PM
Diana Ross approved photo[1]
Credit: Albert Watson

It’s busy times for legendary singer Diana Ross.

In the midst of her nationwide Diana Ross: Endless Memories concert tour, she recently carved out time for family, celebrating the nuptials of son Ross Naess, alongside her extended brood, including daughter Tracee Ellis Ross who served as bridesmaid and son Evan Ross, who attended with wife Ashlee Simpson.

But it’s back to show business for the icon, 73, who with more than 50 years in entertainment, is set to headline the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans on June 30 for the first time. “I’m crazy about New Orleans and I really, really love performing for this specific audience,” the star tells PEOPLE of taking the stage at the SuperDome. “New Orleans has an incredible music history. I made some videos there. I look forward to the performance for so many reasons.”

Credit: Tracee Ellis Ross/Instagram

One of those reasons is getting to belt out her favorite classic. “There are so many songs I love to perform,” she says “I think [my favorite] may be ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.'”

While Ross says she’s eager to catch all of the other acts performing over the three days (including fellow headliners John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Solange Knowles and Chaka Khan) one act in particular is a for sure must-see. “My daughter Rhonda will also be performing,” says the proud mom of five.

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As for the rest of the clan, “Tracee will be there in all of her glory. Evan and his wife Ashlee will also be there,” she says, “It’s going to be a huge family affair!”

And though music is her primary focus these days, Ross, who was nominated for an Academy Award 1973 for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, isn’t counting out a return to the big screen one day. “You never know,” she says, “something may touch my heart and I’ll be back on the screen.”

Essence Festival takes place in New Orleans June 29 to July 2. For tickets visit