Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Florence Ballard (The Strong Voice of the Supremes)
Article by: Gail Nobles
Primettes to Supremes
We know that there is Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Cindy Birdsong which are known as the Supremes. The Supremes began as a quartet called the Primettes. Then it was Diana, Mary, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown. It is said that in 1960, Barbara Martin replace McGlown. They were the sister act to the Primes later known as the Temptations. The Primettes later became known as the Supremes. Florence Ballard was replaced in 1967 with Cindy Birdsong. This is when Barry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross and the Supremes. It is said that the reason Barry chose Diana to be lead singer because it would help the group cross over to white audiences. **Well, that’s what Barry wanted, but he should have also paid attention to the strong voice of Florence Ballard. Sometimes a strong voice is needed for messages in certain songs to reach people from all walks of life. Anyway, Diana left the group and was replaced with Jean Terrell. It was 1970 that Diana left the group for a solo career.
Florence Ballard had a very strong voice. What happened to her? It is said that Florence had a drinking problem. She was sometimes too drunk to appear on stage. That’s when Cindy Birdsong became permanent in the group.
When I was small, my mother introduced the music of the Supremes to me, and she often told me that there was a Supreme that had a better and stronger voice as a lead singer. Now, I know that it was Florence. I never heard her sing. My mother told me that Florence had some problems.
It is said that Florence did have a solo career. She had two singles. “It Doesn’t Matter How I Say It (It’s What I Say That Matters),” and “Love Ain’t Love” on ABC records. Her singles failed to chart, but she kept on trying. In 1971, Ballard unsuccessfully sued Motown for payments she believed were owed to her. **Somehow, I feel deep down inside that Motown owed her some money too. A lot of cheating was done in the music business and cheating is still going on. People were not getting paid what they should have gotten paid in those days. If any wrong was done to Florence, pay up time will come. We have to pay before we leave this world because of the wrong we do or it’s possible to pay in hell if we don’t repent.
Florence had children and her husband left her. Her career ended and her house was seized by foreclosure. Things were rough for Florence. **It is said that Diana Ross heard about the foreclosure and offered her help to save the house, but legal issues made it not to happen. I have heard a lot of negative things about Diana Ross, but this news from the past was the best that I have heard. Nobody can judge a person’s heart, although, we all have faults.
In 1976, Ballard died of a blood clot in one of her coronary arteries. She was thirty- two years old. Florence had a great singing voice, and it’s a sad that things happened the way that they did. **Maybe she was meant to sing in Church for the Lord. I hope that’s what she is doing now. What Florence has done on earth is nothing compared to what she could be doing in heaven now. There’s no more cheating, hurt, pain, sickness, and heart breaking. Hopefully Florence is with the one above that gave her the voice where she can sing all she want to happily. Her life can be perfect and right, and she can do what’s right in heaven. Florence can drink the pure wine and not get drunk. If she can see the Supremes now, I’m sure she wants them to do what is right. She would want them to put the past behind them and be close as sisters so that they could all some day be together.