Florence Glenda Ballard Chapman (June 30, 1943 – February 22, 1976) was an American singer and a founding member of the Motown group The Supremes. From 1963 until 1967, Ballard sang on 16 Top 40 hit Supremes' singles, ten of which hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1967, Motown CEO Berry Gordy decided to remove Ballard from the Supremes. After being dropped from the group, Ballard struggled with a solo career in the late 1960s and spent much of the last five years of her life in relative poverty. In 1976, Ballard died of cardiac arrest at the age of thirty-two. Her death has been called "one of rock's greatest tragedies".
Florence Ballard was born in Detroit in 1943. The ninth of fifteen children, Ballard's parents Lurlee (née Wilson) and Jessie Lambert Ballard had migrated from Rosetta, Mississippi, to participate in Detroit's then booming job market. Jessie Ballard eventually found work at General Motors but still struggled to take care of his growing brood. The Ballards moved constantly around Detroit, living in 7 Mile for a brief time and then living at the Black Bottom projects. Ballard's family eventually settled at the then-newly developed Brewster-Douglass housing projects by the time Ballard was fifteen.
Ballard's cousin was rock 'n' roll and soul music pioneer Hank Ballard. Ballard began singing in church at an early age. Ballard, often called "Flo" by family and friends, also acquired the nickname "Blondie" due to her light auburn hair and fair complexion that reflected her mixed heritage. In 1958, Ballard met Mary Wilson and became acquainted with her after they participated in the same talent competition.