Between the Liner Notes
Nedra Ross: 'The Right Ronette'
By Shannon Woodland and Andrew Knox
The 700 Club
“Music is just who we were.”
They were Ronnie, Estelle and Nedra -- the Ronettes. During the summer of 1963, the Ronettes were catapulted into the world of rock’n’roll with “Be My Baby”.
These New York City teenagers donned signature hair-dos and thick mascara to make a statement -- and they most certainly did. In fact, The Ronettes was the girl group who made it possible for all the others.
Nedra Tally Ross, the youngest of this cousin trio, remembers how the family was the driving force behind the group -- namely, her mother, Susan, who introduced New York City to the Ronettes.
“Mommy was going down there knocking on the doors,” Nedra tells The 700 Club.
Susan says, “The average person was not interested, because they were girls and beautiful. So they said no, but I didn’t give up. I knew that they had talent.”
“By the time I was 17, we had our first hit,” Nedra recalls, “and that was with Phillies Records and Phil Spector. Then we had a mega, international hit. I knew then that there was nothing to complain about. I had it all.”
The family, which included the Ronettes’ aunts and uncles, were chaperones for the girls. They all traveled together, city-to-city, state-to-state, and also overseas. In Britain, the Ronettes were huge. In fact the Rolling Stones were their opening act. In America they toured with the Beatles. But at home, Nedra was expected to do chores and be a big sister to her brother.
She says, “We were very, very protected, and I think that is why today I’m not beat up from the business.”
Nedra was rarely seen at nightclubs and dated her contemporaries very discreetly. But she did have a particular fancy for one guy.
“[Scott Ross] was an assistant program director for WINS, which was the big rock’n’roll station in New York City.”
Scott recalls, “The Ronettes came to the radio station, walked through our radio studio, and they were these three rather stunning young ladies.”
“When I met Scott, I thought he was cute,” Nedra says, laughing.
“But I dated two Ronettes and lived,” Scott chimes in.
“Nothing more than that,” Nedra adds. “He was older than me.”
Scott says, “I think she was 16, and I was 22. Her mother wasn’t about to bless that.”
Even though Scott accepted Jesus Christ as a young boy in Scotland, he wasn’t the perennial boy next door. Quite the opposite, Scott had been arrested for drugs, lost his radio job and was spiraling out of control.
“It was also the thing that God used to get my attention,” Scott confesses. “He said, ‘Here’s where you are prodigal. You’re wallowing with the pigs,’ but Nedra stuck with me through that. She still believed in who I was. She saw something [that] I’m not even sure I knew.”
Scott was looking for meaning in life, anything but religion, and Nedra wanted something more than fame. They both found what they were looking for at a church in Hagerstown, Maryland. The message was not soft sell.
Nedra says, “It was in your face. ‘I am God. I know who you are.’”
Scott recalls, “But I was stoned. I stood in the church parking lot, smoked a joint, and I had it in my trench coat pocket, a bag of grass. Now this was after being busted in New York.”
“We went in, and there was a prophetic work, which I had never heard before,” Nedra says, “basically saying there were two. I knew one was me, and as far as Scott was concerned, [I said], ‘You can hear it or not hear it.’”
Scott remembers telling Nedra, “It’s for you. Not for me, been there done that.”
“I didn’t even know to go forward,” Nedra says. “I didn’t know to stand up or bow down. I just knew that’s us.”
Scott was facing court and the draft to the Vietnam War. As if that wasn’t enough, a woman also came forward, claiming that he had fathered her child. It was more than he could bare.
Nedra says, “When I stood up to go forward, he followed.”
“For me it was a prodigal coming home,” Scott explains. “For Nedra, it was the first time she had ever made a real commitment to the Lord.”
“I mean I was just in tears,” Nedra says. “There were heart issues of me. I was confronted with who the Lord was. He was saying, ‘I love you, and I forgive you.’ I knew that I was a sinner that needed to be forgiven. All the fame and all that was just washed away. I looked up and could see up in the corner of this church like a blackboard with writing on it. It was the sins in my life, and it was washed away.”
Immediately, Nedra and Scott sensed life had changed. Nedra began losing interest in performing, and Scott was freed from all charges.
“I knew for me that I could not grow in the Lord and stay in that circle,” Nedra says. “Actually, after I came to the Lord, I had a show. I had contracts, and I was in Germany on tour. This very good looking young man said to me, ‘If you give me two weeks, you’ll deny everything you believe.’ I knew I had been confronted with a choice. I knew that there was an enemy who desired to take every belief. I was like, ‘Whoa, OK, I’m out.’”
This year, Nedra and Scott celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They’ve raised four kids and are now surrounded by five grandchildren. Nedra is quite the entrepreneur, opening restaurants with her mom, buying real estate and decorating. Nedra loves making her home a place for family.
“It’s wonderful. I love being a wife. I love being a mother and being a grandmother.”
On March 12, 2007, the Ronettes made headlines again after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When she learned of the nomination in January, Nedra screamed and then cried. She’s glad that her 80-year-old mother attended the ceremony with her to take it all in.
“She believed in us, worked hard for us, knocked on doors; now she’s going to bask in it,” Nedra says.
“I chose the right Ronette, trust me,” Scott says.
“This is wonderful,” Nedra exclaims, “but I’ve had such a blessed life, this is just more icing on the cake.”
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