As the lead singer of the 1960s Motown group The Supremes, Diana Ross rose to become one of the most successful and influential singers of her time. With her flashy on-stage outfits, big hair, and even bigger voice, Ross was a force to be reckoned with.
Though her days belting out hits like “Baby Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love” are behind her, Ross remains an iconic figure in music history.
But what about Diana Ross’s own family tree? As her eldest daughter, Rhonda Ross Kendrick followed in some mighty footsteps. Born in 1971, Rhonda entered the world with music royalty in her blood.
But rather than shrink under the pressure, she carved out her own path in the limelight.
Early Life and Upbringing
Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein, as she was originally known, came into the world on August 14, 1971 in Los Angeles, California. Her mother was the one and only Diana Ross, though the identity of Rhonda’s biological father was kept under wraps.
At the time, Ross was married to her first husband Robert Ellis Silberstein. The couple decided to raise Rhonda together despite her true parentage.
It wasn’t until Rhonda turned 13 that she learned the truth: her real father was the founder of Motown Records himself, Berry Gordy. Ross and Gordy had engaged in a passionate affair during Diana’s rise to fame, resulting in Rhonda’s conception.
Though initially startled by her discovery, Rhonda says the revelation brought her relief. She had begun noticing differences between her features and those of her younger sisters. Finally, it all made sense.
Despite her unconventional parental situation, young Rhonda thrived under her mother’s care. After graduating high school, she headed east to attend the prestigious Ivy League school Brown University. Education clearly runs in the family – her grandmother Ernestine was a school teacher in Detroit.
With show business in her blood, it was only natural that Rhonda would try her hand at acting. In the late 1990s, she landed the role of Toni Burrell on the long-running soap opera Another World. Rhonda brought the character to life from 1997-1999.
Her performance earned her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series in 1998. She may not have snagged the trophy, but the nod proved Rhonda could hold her own in the acting arena.
Rhonda went on to flash her dramatic chops in television movies like Out of Darkness and The Temptations miniseries. She even popped up in a couple episodes of the early 2000s sitcom Girlfriends.
But her most prominent acting credit came in the 1999 romantic comedy The Personals. The film marked her entry into feature films.
Acting may have been her first foray into entertainment, but music remained Rhonda’s true passion. In 2004, she decided to pick up the mic just like her legendary mama. Rhonda released her debut album that year, a live set appropriately titled Rhonda Ross Live Featuring Rodney Kendrick.
But it wasn’t until 2016 that Rhonda unveiled her full range with her first studio album, In Case You Didn’t Know. The LP showcased her smooth R&B/jazz fusion sound. Lead singles like “Summer Day” and the title track put the spotlight squarely on Rhonda’s velvety vocals.
Rhonda’s musical journey came full circle in 2021 when she co-wrote a song on her mother’s album Thank You. The track “All is Well” saw Rhonda team up with Diana Ross and co-writer Fred White. Talk about a family affair!
In 2013, Rhonda supported her mother once again by serving as the opening act on Diana’s In the Name of Love tour. She got to perform her own solo material to crowds eager to see a Ross back in action.
Between acting gigs and music projects, Rhonda still found time to cultivate yet another side hustle. In 2008, she founded her own real estate brokerage firm, Ross Realty International. The company is based in New York City, where Rhonda lived for many years.
Before becoming a real estate mogul, she cut her teeth working as an agent with the firm Citi Habitats. Clearly, Rhonda wasn’t content to just ride her mom’s coattails. She possesses the Ross work ethic in spades.
Balancing high-profile careers in showbiz and real estate takes a strong foundation off-stage. Luckily for Rhonda, she has a solid partner by her side. In 1996, she married jazz musician Rodney Kendrick. The musical couple wed when Rhonda was 25 years old.
Rhonda and Rodney share a son together, born in August 2009. Though fiercely protective of her child’s privacy, Rhonda sometimes shares glimpses of #momlife on her Instagram. It’s clear family is her top priority.
As Diana’s first born in 1971, Rhonda holds the title of eldest daughter in the Ross family tree. She has several younger half-siblings from both Diana and Berry’s sides, including actress Tracee Ellis Ross.
Rhonda is legally considered the daughter of Diana’s ex-husband Robert Ellis Silberstein. But she remains close with her biological father Berry Gordy as well. Talk about a 21st century modern family!
Diana Ross’s Impact on Her Career
When your mom is a world famous pop icon, her legacy is bound to have an impact. Growing up with Diana Ross as a mother surely shaped Rhonda’s path, though she maintains her own distinct artistry.
Signing with Motown Records, as Rhonda did early in her music career, immediately evoked her mother’s days as a Supremes singer on that legendary label. It also granted her unique access thanks to the family name.
Rhonda’s acting and musical talents clearly echo her mother’s gifts. And getting the opportunity to collaborate with Diana has brought their bond full circle.
Yet Rhonda’s eclectic career across different fields displays her diversity. From real estate entrepreneur to studio album artist, she followed her own compass. Diana may have given her wings, but Rhonda soared to heights all her own.
Rhonda’s Place in the Gordy Family Legacy
With Berry Gordy as her biological father, Rhonda also belongs to another R&B royal family. Her paternal connections tied back to the origins of Motown Records.
As Gordy’s seventh child, Rhonda can count music legends like Smokey Robinson as adopted uncles of sorts. Her own half-brothers via Berry, like Rockwell and Redfoo, also made their marks on the industry.
Rhonda’s upbringing was filled with famous figures many music fans only dream of meeting. Her Michigan roots instilled that quintessential Motown sound as the soundtrack to her youth.
When Rhonda married jazz artist Rodney Kendrick, their union merged two talented musical families. Much like her mother did, Rhonda chose a creative partner who complemented her artistry.
Whether carrying on her mother’s musical legacy or trailblazing on her own, Rhonda Ross Kendrick’s multifaceted career is one to watch. She has handled the pressures of fame and family with grace and tenacity.
From her soap opera days to real estate hustle to silky R&B releases, Rhonda does it all on her own terms. She mixes together just the right amount of Detroit grit with Hollywood glam.
Rhonda Ross Kendrick is a woman who proves you don’t have to choose one path to make your mark. Her talents extend far across the artistic spectrum – and in the process, she has etched her own name in the Ross family lexicon.
About the Author
Team Guitar Top Review Talk about Guitars! We are a group of friends that bonded over their shared love of playing guitar. We all have different backgrounds and experiences with music, but we share a passion for writing about the things that we love.