Florence Ballard Biography

Florence Ballard was an American vocalist and one of the founding members of the female pop vocal group, ‘The Supremes’. Explore this biography to learn more about her childhood, life, works, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: June 30, 1943

Nationality: American

Famous: Rhythm & Blues Singers American Women

Died At Age: 32

Sun Sign: Cancer

Born in: Detroit, Michigan

Famous as: Vocalist

Died on: February 22, 1976

place of death: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

City: Detroit, Michigan

U.S. State: Michigan

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Florence Ballard Chapman was one of the founding members of the female-singing group, ‘The Supremes’. She was well-known for her deep, rich and soulful voice but her fame was soon eclipsed by Diane Ross, a fellow member of her group. While in high school, she used to participate in talent shows and got noticed for her unique voice and stage persona. Her singing talent caught the attention of a reputed record label and subsequently, she was offered an audition for a band. Her stint with ‘The Supremes’ was not very fruitful, as she was not given the opportunity to prove her mettle as a lead singer and was often consigned to background vocals. After a bitter strife and argument with the manager, she was ousted from the group as she retaliated by missing performances or record sessions. She also led a brief unsuccessful stint as a solo singer, but her life soon spiralled downwards due to poverty and alcoholism. Later, her financial conditions started improving and she made a comeback as a singer. Her career was, however, cut short due to her untimely death.

Childhood & Early Life
  • The ‘Primettes’ released their first record ‘Tears of Sorrow’ under the label, ‘Lupine Records’ but it didn’t taste great success.
  • In August 1960, the band recorded the singles, ‘After All’, ‘You Can Depend on Me’ and ‘Buttered Popcorn’, which catapulted them to fame.
  • On January 1, 1961, the band was renamed to ‘The Supremes’, following which, they signed a contract with ‘MoTown Records’.
  • In 1962, Ballard left the group and joined an all-girl group, ‘The Marvelettes’ as a vocalist by replacing singer Wanda Young who was on maternity leave.
  • A few of her never-released singles include ‘Ain’t That Good News’, ‘People’ and ‘It Makes No Difference Now’.
  • In 1966, due to excessive alcoholism and weight gain, she was replaced by another vocalist, which ended her tenure with ‘The Supremes’.
  • From 1963-1967, during her time with ‘The Supremes’ she managed to deliver ten ‘number one’ songs and sixteen ‘top forty’ singles.
  • In 1968, she signed a deal with ‘ABC Records’ and released two of her singles, ‘It Doesn’t Matter How I Say It’ and ‘Love Ain’t Love’. They failed commercially, which resulted in her later albums getting shelved by the record label.
  • On June 25, 1975, she performed at the ‘Henry and Edsel Ford Auditorium’, Detroit and made a comeback as a singer with a new record deal.
Major Works
  • In 1964, she was the lead vocalist for the song ‘People’, which featured in ‘The Supremes’ album, ‘There’s A Place for Us’. It soon became her trademark song and she started performing in auditoriums, for concerts and in nightclubs which lasted for two decades.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1988, she was posthumously inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • On February 29, 1968, she married a chauffeur, Thomas Chapman and the couple had twin girls the same year.
  • In 1971, she gave birth to a third child but was deserted by her husband, which led to a financial crisis in the family.
  • Although her comeback was a success, she dealt with health problems due to alcoholism. She died of cardiac arrest, at the age of 32, in Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital. She is buried at the ‘Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery’ in Michigan.
  • In 2006, the musical drama ‘Dreamgirls’ starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyonc� Knowles was released and was made a ‘film a clef’, featuring the albums by ‘The Supremes’ and ‘MoTown Records’.
  • This prominent female singer was blessed with a powerful voice and was asked by the studio engineers to stand 17 feet away from the microphone while recording a song.

See the events in life of Florence Ballard in Chronological Order

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