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The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl…

The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard

by Peter Benjaminson

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The Lost Supreme-: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard by Peter Benjaminson is a 2008 Chicago Review Press publication.

I found this book while checking out the new Hoopla service provided by my library. I knew little or nothing about this artist so I decided to check it out.

The bulk of the book came from several taped interviews the author did shortly before Ms. Ballard's death. The tapes were transcribed for publication but it wasn't until the movie “Dreamgirls” that the interest was high enough to garner attention for the book.

For the most part the focus is on Florence's career as a Supreme and her subsequent fall from grace that left her in financial straights with very little recourse.

This book is Florence's take on things and the author doesn't water anything down or sugarcoat her feelings or attitude. This is not to say her version of events is the whole story or that others may have a different point of view on the matter, which I am sure they do. But, I think she probably had the real gist of things and her story felt real, down to earth and quite believable.

One must keep in mind that this book was constructed from interview tapes and then fleshed out from there to give us an up close and personal view of Florence's short life. At times the writing gets a little choppy, and it's not written or organized in the typical biographical manner.

The main thing that stands out about this book is how strong Florence's voice is throughout. Lots of passages are told in a first person accounting of her experiences with The Supremes and Motown. There were funny stories about being on the Ed Sullivan show and her encounter with the Beatles that ended up being more awkward than anything else. These stories told in her own words are haunting and poignant as it also chronicles the height of success she reached, which is in stark contrast to her life at the time these interviews were recorded.

The story of Florence's life is not a happy or uplifting one, in fact it's really sad. But, I do recommend reading this book, since I have never found much material on this fabulous and original member of The Supremes and it not only gives insight into her life, but also into the music business and the inner workings of Motown.

I did have some issues with the formatting and Hoopla has assured me they are working on that, so if you come across this book and enjoy performance art, biographies, music, or are a big fan of The Supremes, you might want to give it a look.

3 stars ( )
  gpangel | Jun 12, 2015 |
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Sheds light on various areas of Florence Ballard's life, including the surprising identity of the man by whom she was raped prior to entering the music business, the details of her love-hate relationship with Motown Records czar Berry Gordy, her drinking problem and pleas for help, and a never-ending desire to be the Supremes' lead singer.… (more)

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