*Right after Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and other legends finished filming the theatrical version of the Broadway phenomenon The Wiz, released in 1978, Motown Records sent Ross back to the studio to record an album of all of the musical’s songs — including those sung by her cast mates.
The album was to have been called “Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz”, and was scheduled for release in early 1979 as a companion piece to the movie’s Quincy Jones-produced soundtrack album.
The film itself was mired in controversy before filming began, with critics savaging Motown for casting a 33-year-old Ross as the The Wiz’ 24-year-old Dorothy.
The movie was generally panned upon its release, and it under-performed at the box office. Motown subsequently cancelled the release of the companion Ross album.
With the passage of time, annual holiday showings on BET and other networks, and the deaths of most of the principal cast (including Michael Jackson in 2009), the theatrical version of The Wiz is viewed differently today. As NBC readies a December 3 live broadcast of a new production of the musical, Motown Universal has dusted off and remastered Ross’ original 1978 recordings. “Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz” will be released, for the first time, on November 27.
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