Monday, October 26, 2009

Goin' down South!

I'm giving a lecture at Arkansas State University tomorrow! I will have a captive audience eager to hear about Flo. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unsung episode coming soon!

Florence Ballard - The co-founder and shared lead singer of the Supremes was replaced as lead singer by Diana Ross when Berry Gordy decided that Ross’ voice could help the group cross over and appeal to white audiences. She never recovered from that decision, and Gordy dismissed her from the group in 1967. It took years before she recovered emotionally, and she spent much of her last years in poverty, dying a tragic death from a coronary thrombosis at age 32. Although the award-winning theater presentation of Dreamgirls and the critically acclaimed film are reportedly based on the life of Florence Ballard, Unsung finally tells her real story through the recollections of family and friends. Premieres Sunday, June 28 at 8 PM, repeating at 11 PM, as well as Thursday, July 2 at 10 PM and Friday, July 3 at noon and midnight.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The support of fans amazes me!

I am so proud of all the support that Flo's fans have shown me over the last year! It has been simply amazing! I am busy at work writing a follow up to the first book - and, yes - it will be in paperback, for all those who have requested it. I plan to include a discussion of my personal investigation into Flo's death and brand new family photos of Flo - including a never-before-seen baby picture of Flo. So, stay tuned and keep the reviews coming!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Reviews Are In!!!

I have already begun receiving reviews from those who ordered my book. I thought I would share one of those comments with you here:

Dear Maxine,I just wanted to drop you a few lines to let you know that I have received my books. Just in time for Mother's Day, and my mom LOVED it! As for me, I can't wait to start reading it. It is more than what I was expecting, it's more than Flo's story, it's the entire Ballard family, I love it, I love it. I have never seen photos of your parents Lurlee and Jesse, or the rest of the sisters and brothers. It's a loving tribute to the whole family, and that's what I love about it. Thank you so much Maxine. I'll treasure it forever. Is there anything that you would like the fans to help you with? Promotion of the book, etc? Just let us know!Wonderful job! Thanks again,with much love and respect,Chris Martinez and family.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

2 weeks to go!

Thank you to all who purchased The True Story of Florence Ballard during pre-order.
The book will finally be back from the printer and delivered to all who ordered in the next 2 weeks.

I'm adding a picture of the dust jacket to my blog. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Thanks, everyone, for your patience.

Monday, March 26, 2007

PayPal link for the book

Use the following link to purchase my book directly from PayPal:¤cy_code=USD&lc=US&bn=PP%2dBuyNowBF&charset=UTF%2d8


It is with great joy that I announce that my book is now available for ordering! Delivery from the first printing will be within the next 2-4 weeks, so if you want to make sure you're a part of that, you need to place your order now.

The first printing is a limited edition and contains several never-before-seen photos and documents.

Buy the book now by copying and pasting the entire link below into your web browser:

Blessings to you and yours,


Thursday, March 1, 2007

The BOOK and OSCAR Win!

First of all, I want to congratulate Jennifer Hudson for her Oscar win for Dreamgirls! I am sure that this win will only solidify the stardom of the new and rising young actress/singer/performer!

I was honored recently at a black-tie gala in which high school students performed a staging for Dreamgirls. Those young actors and actresses reminded me so much of Flo and all the other young hopefuls in the Brewster Projects. Young and bursting with energy and motivation to become stars!
Now, as for the BOOK:

I had a few formatting errors with my printer, so that delayed the production of my book. However, we are past that and the book is now being printed. Please visit my website in the next few weeks to purchase your copy:

I appreciate everyone who have been patiently waiting for the book. I am sure it will be worth the wait!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Associated Press Interview

Look for my latest interview, via the Associated Press, in your local newspapers. I think the interview turned out well and I was happy to see that some of Flo's old Motown friends, like Martha Reeves, still have positive things to say about her:

Movie Draws Attention to Ballard
By SVEN GUSTAFSON, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

(02-20) 13:05 PST DETROIT, (AP) --
Like Effie, the "Dreamgirls" character which drew from her life, Florence Ballard had a triumphant return to the stage after her fall from grace from The Supremes.
Singing at Ford Auditorium in Detroit on June 25, 1975, Ballard shook off years of drinking and other troubles and put on a dynamic performance that drew wide acclaim and revived interest in her career.
"She was a wonderful singer," said Martha Reeves, Ballard's former Motown labelmate.
But unlike Effie, Florence Ballard's road to a comeback didn't go much further than that night. In 1976, Ballard, one of the original Supremes, died of a heart attack at age 32, almost 10 years after she was kicked out of the legendary girl group.
While Diana Ross remains an international icon and Mary Wilson continues to perform nationwide, Ballard is known, if at all, as a tragic figure. But with the release of the movie "Dreamgirls," and Jennifer Hudson's Oscar-nominated performance in the role based on Ballard, Ballard's family is hoping it will provide a new opportunity to let the world know about the real Florence.
"I thought that Jennifer Hudson did a great job," Maxine Ballard, Florence's sister, said in an interview at her suburban Detroit home.
But she summarized the Effie character, which originated in the Broadway version of "Dreamgirls" in the early '80s, as "a very mild Florence Ballard because there would have been some slaps and some bops or whatever and somebody would have been picking themselves up off the floor.
"I'm just telling you how the real Florence Ballard was."
Maxine Ballard has penned a yet-to-be-released book titled "The True Story of Florence (Blondie) Ballard" (the nickname references the hair color she inherited from an Irish ancestor). Florence was the ninth of 15 children born to Jesse and Lurlee Ballard. Her father, who worked for General Motors, played steel guitar, sang the blues and loved to tell stories to his kids. Florence, Maxine and most of the rest of the younger siblings grew up singing in the choir at a local Spiritualist church, Ballard said.
"She always had drive and passion about everything," Ballard said of her sister. "My father named her "The Flying Red Horse" because she couldn't sit still."
Florence was approached one day sitting on the steps of her home in a Detroit housing project by Milton Jenkins, the manager of a pre-Temptations outfit called the Primes. He was looking for an accompanying act, and he asked her to lead the Primettes.
Rounded out by Ross, Wilson and Barbara Martin, who quickly left the group, the Primettes became The Supremes, and made their debut on the Motown label in 1961. Ballard initially sang lead on at least some songs, but after sweet-sounding, glamorous Ross was given the lead spot, the group recorded five consecutive No. 1 singles from 1964-65, including classics like "Baby Love,""Where Did Our Love Go" and "Come See About Me."
Disagreements between the three friends, however, had become common, Ballard said. In 1967, with Florence Ballard struggling with her weight and alcohol, she was replaced with Cindy Birdsong.
"The word `kicked out' sounds a little brutal," said Reeves, of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. "I saw them get to the point where they disagreed. I think it was mainly at the point when they put Diana Ross' name out front."
Ballard's ensuing years saw her give birth to twins Nicole and Michelle in 1968 and daughter Lisa in 1972. Her attempts to pursue a solo career fell flat, and she confronted problems with drinking, her marriage and the emotional trauma left over from being raped as a teenager by an acquaintance.
"Some friends that she thought were friends just weren't friends," Ballard said. "She bought instruments for bands, she bought fur coats for girlfriends of hers. When she got down and out and felt like she needed these people around her they weren't there."
Ballard said her sister, who fell into poverty, became consumed by her own anger.
"When she lived with me she tore up about 10 telephones of mine, throwing them against the wall," Ballard said. "She would drink, she would smash things against the wall or whatever out of anger that she felt. She felt betrayed by Motown and (label founder) Berry Gordy and she felt betrayed by (Ross and Wilson) because she felt like they should have stood up for her.
"But she realized I think years later that they couldn't do anything. What could they do?"
Ross left The Supremes to pursue her own solo superstardom in 1970, and the group eventually disbanded a few years later. After Ballard's death, some fans blamed her former bandmates for abandoning their friend, and Ross bore the brunt of the blame.
But Maxine Ballard said Ross quietly sent checks to help Florence's children, Wilson remained supportive over the years and both showed up in Detroit for Florence's funeral despite open animosity from some surviving family members. Wilson, whose book "Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme" was published in 1986, even agreed to sit down for an interview for the forthcoming book, she said.
"In the end, she still loved them like sisters and this is the message that she wanted me to deliver," Ballard said. "And this is something that I don't think (people) know."

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Smokey Robinson speaks out on Dreamgirls!

I talked briefly with the interviewer, Elizabeth Blair, about this story she was writing. The completed story was quite an interesting read. I was so surprised to hear that Smokey Robinson was angry about the movie. Take a look and leave me your comments:

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The UK loves Flo too!

Check out my latest interview with a UK publication:

The title is a bit bold, but I think the article turned out well. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First the Golden Globes; next - The Oscars!

I was so excited to hear this morning that Jennifer Hudson was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the upcoming Academy Awards! I will be seated right in front of my TV on February 25th to see the outcome of the awards show.

I congratulate Jennifer for her nomination and wish her all the best in the Oscar contest. I am thankful to her for speaking Flo's name aloud during her Golden Globes win and for dedicating the award to Flo.

Read more about today's nominees here:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jennifer Hudson wins the Golden Globe!

I am elated for Jennifer Hudson in her win of the Golden Globe award. She deserves all the fame that is afforded to the great talent that she is. My hat is off to her!

I am truly grateful to Jennifer for helping to keep my sister's memory alive. Jennifer's words about Flo during her Globe acceptance speech are a true blessing to the Ballard family!

See the YouTube video of Jennifer's win last night at:

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Detroit News Article

Read more about Flo and why I decided to write this book:

The article also includes an audio version of my interview with Susan Whithall from the Detroit News.

Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

More on Dreamgirls

Happy New Year!

I am hopeful that 2007 will be the year that everyone will finally learn what my sister, Blondie, was really like.

I was surfing the 'Net the other day and found this article. I think the author/reviewer is dead-on with her comments:

Stop! In the name of love
The Supremes embodied soul music with a light touch in the face of heartache. "Dreamgirls" stomps on the band's legend.
By Stephanie Zacharek
Dec. 15, 2006 "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll" includes a wonderful photograph of the original Supremes -- Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and founder Florence Ballard -- circa 1965, posing in front of a supermarket display of their very own brand of bread, Supremes Bread. As the biggest and most marketable Motown act of the time, the Supremes could have lent their names to just about anything, and we can only imagine that impresario Berry Gordy -- the man who made the Supremes larger than life -- sold them out for loaves of white bread, in puffy white wrappers bearing their likeness, simply because the price was right.
White bread may be an enduring symbol of blandness and of whiteness, but this photograph -- showing us three women smiling dutifully for the camera, dressed in luxe, boxy coats and wearing shellacked wigs that could withstand any windstorm -- is, to me, more touching than it is ironic. Today, pop stars lend their faces and bodies to expensive watches and designer clothes, but the Supremes, who found fame in very different times, lent their glamour to something anyone could buy. Their sound, whipped full of air and wonder, lofty and light even in the face of hardship and heartache, was magic as commodity: It was the staff of life, packaged.
"Dreamgirls," originally brought to the Broadway stage by Michael Bennett in the early 1980s and now a movie musical directed by Bill Condon, is another kind of package, one that commodifies the Supremes' story by turning it into something shrink-wrapped, airless and glitzy. "Dreamgirls" -- which opens today for one week at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York, and nationwide on Dec. 25 -- is a fictional version of the Supremes' rise to fame and the ensuing rifts and rivalries between its members: A Detroit singing trio -- they start out as the Dreamettes, later dropping the "ettes" -- become huge stars with the guidance of a sharp but duplicitous manager, Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx). The group's frontwoman, Effie White (2004 "American Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson), is a pretty powerhouse with a big voice and a lush, zaftig figure to match; she's also Curtis' girl. As Curtis grooms the trio to succeed not just in Apollo Theater-type venues but in swanky supper clubs as well (in other words, he's training them to jump color and class barriers), he pushes Effie, with her very big, very black voice, into the background, and makes her willowy, glamorous co-member, Deena Jones ( Beyoncé Knowles), the trio's star; third member Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) is simply eager for success and goes along with the power play. Deena's voice has the "lighter" -- in other words, whiter -- touch Curtis is looking for; the subtext is that Effie is too intimidating for white audiences, too coarse for the aura of elegance Curtis wants to cultivate for the group.
All of those things essentially happened to the Supremes, too: Even though Florence Ballard had the strongest voice of the three women, Berry Gordy ultimately pushed the vixenish Diana Ross into the lead singer's slot. The snub deeply troubled Ballard, and she was fired from the group in 1967; she died in poverty in 1976, after several failed attempts to launch a solo career.
It's the kind of story that's almost too big to be contained by fiction, and "Dreamgirls" -- beginning with Tom Eyen's book, which was adapted by Condon for the screen -- doesn't come close to mapping the alternately sad and joyous contours of that story. This is a puny, pinched vision of R&B history and of R&B itself, a sanitized, show-tunized reading of some of the greatest pop music to come out of the 1960s. An early scene in "Dreamgirls" features a speech about how the white man has repeatedly stolen from the black man, and yet the show's music sounds like one massive instance of thoughtless appropriation. The songs -- with lyrics by Eyen and music by Henry Krieger -- sound nothing like those that came out of Motown (with their repetitive but dreamily seductive Holland-Dozier-Holland hooks); they have the toe-tapping sheen of the phoniest show music, as if you could give a melody soul just by wriggling your spirit-fingers extra-hard. Even the movie's alleged showstopper, the bloated ballad "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (made famous by Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie onstage) is less a song than a diaphragm workout, a number designed to prove how physically demanding it is to pull off. When Hudson's Effie performs it here, you can see her trying to find some emotional footing on this craggy Matterhorn. It's a testament to Hudson's gifts as a singer, and to her unsugary effervescence, that she actually comes close to making the song mean something. (And even then, the sequence is cut so clumsily we're barely allowed to watch her; editor Virginia Katz -- who has done terrific work elsewhere, particularly on "Jet Li's Fearless" -- has chopped the number into little bits, distracting us from Hudson's unshakable focus.)
Even taken on its own terms, divorced from the real story of Motown and the Supremes (if it's even possible to do so), "Dreamgirls" is a frenzied, slapdash exercise, a dramatic slice-and-dice in which scenes zip past us in an inconsequential blur. Characters have crises before they even have personalities (if they're ever lucky enough to get personalities). When Beyoncé's Deena wails to Foxx's Curtis, who has become her controlling, obsessive husband as well as her manager, "Maybe you just don't see me for who I am," we can't really blame the guy: We have no idea who she is, either. In "Dreamgirls," Deena isn't a delectable villainess or even a guileless victim; she observes the machinations around her -- chief among them Curtis' cruel treatment of Effie, whom she supposedly loves like family -- with nothing but a blank, glazed gleam in her beautifully almond-shaped eyes. Diana Ross may not have a reputation for being a sweetheart, but you can't say she's not fascinating: In performance footage of the group, you can sometimes see her brittle ambition nearly breaking through her winsomeness -- she's one of those pop-culture figures who's easier to love than to like. But "Dreamgirls" asks nothing of Beyoncé, an appealing presence who's untested as an actress: All she has to do is wear a succession of alternately sequined and slinky outfits and blink her big Bambi eyes; even her musical numbers are dwarfed by Hudson's. She's less a dream girl than a waxy living doll.
"Dreamgirls" vibrates with not-so-hidden messages and meanings, among them "Sisterhood is powerful" and "You can be what you want to be if only you dare to dream." Maybe the picture would be more pleasurable if it weren't so laden with hefty empowerment lessons, if it were constructed as a sharp, sly entertainment like Rob Marshall's film of Bob Fosse's "Chicago" (which Condon also adapted for the screen).
Even some of the performers seem a bit confused about how seriously to take the whole enterprise: Jamie Foxx plays a cardboard villain, a guy who bulldozes his way through other people's lives to make his dreams come true, but we never quite understand how he pulls it off -- his charisma has only a flat, dull surface glow. (It's hard to believe this is the same actor who gave so much dimension to Ray Charles in Taylor Hackford's "Ray.") Other actors have more impact in much smaller parts: Anika Noni Rose plays Lorrell as a sweet, ditzy charmer; Keith Robinson, as Effie's brother and the group's chief songwriter, C.C. White, gives a relatively slight role some interesting gravity. And Eddie Murphy, as James "Thunder" Early, one of Curtis' earliest acts and one who is, like Effie, ultimately betrayed by him, has some wonderful scenes: He brings glammed-up grace to his early song-and-dance numbers, momentarily distracting us from how lousy the songs are. And he's deeply moving in some of his later scenes. Murphy doesn't let his guard down readily -- he's more of a showman, a dazzler -- and when he does, you feel you've been let in on a closely guarded secret.
Whatever the flaws of "Dreamgirls" may be, there's no escaping the allure of Jennifer Hudson. Hudson has a hearty voice and a luscious, rounded figure, and yet she gives the picture the very dashes of lightness it so sorely needs. Even in her later scenes, when hardship threatens to crush Effie, she maintains a quiet, serene equilibrium -- there's nothing brassy or false about her. Hudson gets far less screen time than Beyoncé does, even though she's practically the movie's lifeblood.
"Dreamgirls" was a beloved stage musical, and I suspect plenty of people will love this movie, too. But it's troubling that a prefab production like "Dreamgirls" is poised to be a hit, while the most original movie musical of the past few years (if not of many years), Bryan Barber's Prohibition-era fantasy "Idlewild," disappeared from the movie landscape with barely a flicker. "Idlewild" is a celebration not just of black culture but of all pop culture, a rapturous patchwork of movie conventions that results in something deeply unconventional.
By comparison, "Dreamgirls" gives us everything we expect, and less. Murphy's James "Thunder" Early is an R&B performer who's James Brown, (a straight) Little Richard, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye all rolled into one. Composite characters are a staple of fiction. And yet there's something unsettling about the very conception of this figure, as if all black pop music were of a piece, as if even its greatest voices were interchangeable. "Where did our love go?" the Supremes once asked us, a question so bold in its simplicity that some of us have never gotten over it. There's so little love to be found in "Dreamgirls." It's a product that promises magic, and yet gives us nothing to live on.
-- By Stephanie Zacharek

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Detroit News Article

Susan Whithall came to my house on Friday to interview me for a story she is writing with the Detroit News. A photographer is due next week to obtain photos for the story. A lot of the questions she asked were about my impressions of the movie Dreamgirls. I have already shred that opinion here, and told Susan much of the same. I have an alert for blogs on Flo Ballard, and I'm amazed at the number of people that are linking my sister to the movie. I think it's great publicity in keeping Flo's memory alive, but the point of the story has been missed a bit. Flo's career didn't die because of the way her sisters in the group treated her; her career ended, in part, because of the people in positions of influence that refused to help her when she needed it most.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Detroit going wild!

It looks like my city is going crazy over the Dreamgirls movie! I'm glad that so much excitement has been generated about the movie, but it is unfortunate that so many people think that the character of Effie is my sister. I suppose that everyone is entitled to their opinions. I am thankful that all the buzz is keeping my sister's memory alive. For that I am grateful. I would love to hear what other people think of the movie. I'm trying to reserve full judgement - for now. ;-)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Book publishing news

I'm in the process of trying to get this book available for purchase in its digital form, but I may have hit a snag. The company who will digitally produce the book wants to retain rights to ownership for one year. I can't agree to that! I am so excited about this book, that I have envisioned unlimited possibilities for it, so I can't make any mistakes in terms of getting it distributed to Flo's fans. Back to the drawing board for now on the digital book, but it is full steam ahead for the print version...I'll keep you posted...

Friday, December 15, 2006

More work on the book

I am inspired, now more than ever, to finish the work necessary to complete this book project! I met with my webmaster today, and the site should be up and running by the weekend. Unfortunately, the site was taken by another party, but I was able to claim additional domain names, including and I am allowing, on a limited basis, interested parties to gain access to the book in a digital format prior to its release in early 2007. The digital book may be purchased via and will be available soon. Others will be able to buy hard copies of the book in early 2007.

I hope readers like what they see. I have poured countless hours into the writing of this book, and the true story is there for all to read. I created a voice message for fans to listen to my thoughts on the book. To access the message, dial (641) 985-5999, extension 18714 and press the # key.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dreamgirls - The Movie - My Two Cents

Everything I read about this movie seems to deny that the movie is based on the story of the Supremes. But, most critics and those who have seen the movie say that the character of Effie is the same as my sister, Blondie. I haven't seen the movie, but I am sure that the real story of my sister's life cannot be found in this film. Everyone portrays her as this down and out, broken, once-famous singer, when, in fact, she was quite the opposite. I wish you could have known her. I guess that's why they say art does NOT imitate life - there is no comparison between what's on the screen and the real thing. And Blondie was the real thing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The book about Flo "Blondie" Ballard is coming soon!

I have read so much on the web about the possibility of my writing a book about Blondie. I want to let all of Blondie's fans know that YES - I am writing a book - and it will be available soon via my website:

Check my website for updates and the status on the book. We are working hard to get the book out during the month of December. I don't want Blondie's fans to have to wait much longer for the real story of my sister's life. I think it will be more than worth the wait.

Please share your thoughts about my sister here on my blog. I would love to hear what you think.