It was a vision of musical stardom as a Detroit teen that inspired Mary
Wilson, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, to found one of the most
successful female singing groups in recording history – The Supremes. Since
then, Wilson has written a best-selling autobiography, performed on stage and
screen, lectured and toured the world, and continues to be looked up to as a
singer who set the standard for females in the recording industry.
This past summer, Wilson performed a number of consecutive shows at
Feinstein’s at the Regency, New York’s premiere supper club. In her “Mary
Wilson: Up Close” show, she wowed audiences with an intimate selection of
standards and easy-listening tunes that showcased her smoky voice and vocal
prowess. Wilson closed the season at the prestigious nightclub, which The New
York Post called “an invaluable New York institution.”
As an original Supreme, Wilson was a much sought-after interview
regarding the award-winning film, DREAMGIRLS. After covering the red carpet
premiere for “Extra,” she endeared herself to a whole new generation of
Hollywood stars and fans alike, including Golden Globe winners Eddie Murphy
and Jennifer Hudson, as well as Jamie Foxx, BEYONCE and Snoop Dogg! The
success of DREAMGIRLS has also rekindled interest in Wilson’s best-selling
autobiography, DreamGirl: My Life as a Supreme.
In addition to her tireless performing and trips to the studio to record her
new album, Wilson, along with The Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Friends
Against Musical Exploitation, is lobbying state governments to pass a bill
prohibiting bogus musical groups from cashing in on the names and likeness of
such famous acts as The Supremes and Four Tops. Wilson and company have
proposed an amendment to the Truth in Advertising Act (1968) that would
prevent such groups from performing under such classic bands’ names unless
they contained an original member or had specific licenses to do so. Wilson’s
goal is to garner enough state support to lobby Congress to pass a federal law.
“We have given America and the world happiness with our music; it’s time that
we have a law that protects us and our legacy,” Wilson states.
Tireless in her contributions to charity and society at large, Wilson was
recently named as a spokesperson for The Humpty Dumpty Institute’s initiative
to raise public awareness about the worldwide scourge of landmines. As HDI’s
Mine Action Spokesperson, Wilson traveled to Sri Lanka and then Laos this past
fall, visiting schools impacted by unexploded ordinance left over from the
Vietnam War. After helping to detonate 58 bombs and declaring safe zones, she
held a charity concert in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In addition, Wilson addressed the
annual conference of the US Department of Agriculture on Food Security. In
early summer, she will travel to Vietnam and visit the mine action program.
In 2003 Wilson was named a US Cultural Ambassador by US Secretary of
State Colin Powell as part of a “Culture Connect” program. The goal was to
improve cross-cultural understanding internationally. As such, she undertook
missions to Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Asia and South America on behalf of the
US Department of State. Wilson was also recently awarded a Doctorate of
Humane Letters from Paine College in Augusta, GA.
While growing up in Detroit’s Brewster Projects, her love for singing
blossomed when she befriended Florence Ballard, Betty McGlown and Diane
Ross at age 13. Fueled by their mutual love of music and their ambition for
stardom, the quartet formed a singing group, The Primettes, and became the
sister group of The Primes, who saw two members go on to form The
Temptations. Together they auditioned for the then fledgling Motown label and
were eventually signed. Betty and her replacement Barbara, both dropped out of
the group, and the remaining trio of Mary, Flo and Diane became known as The
At first, success eluded the girls, who recorded several albums before
getting their first hit. In fact, they were dubbed the “No-Hit Supremes” until
Motown founder Berry Gordy put them in touch with his top writing and
producing team, Holland-Dozier-Holland. Four decades and 40 albums later,
what once started as a dream has exceeded beyond Wilson’s wildest imagination.
With an unprecedented 12 number-one hits, including five in a row – “Where Did
Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Stop, In The Name Of Love,” and “Back in My Arms
Again” – The Supremes set the precedent for super group success.
Wilson worked hard to keep the dream alive even after Florence and Diana
left the group. In 1970, Berry Gordy brought in Jean Terrell to replace Ross, with
Cindy Birdsong having replaced Florence Ballard. Together, they formed The
New Supremes, racking up three top 10 hits [“Up The Ladder To The Roof”,
“Stoned Love”, and “River Deep, Mountain High” (with the Four Tops)].
To this day Wilson continues to tour under the moniker of Mary Wilson of
The Original Supremes, and has performed for handfuls of celebrities and
politicians all over the world, including The Clintons at The White House.
Throughout the late 70s and 80s, Mary hit the lecture circuit to tell her
amazing story. She still lectures to this day, her “Dare To Dream” circuit
including such organizations at American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s
Hospital, UNICEF and many more. Wilson eventually put her story to print,
becoming a best-selling author with her autobiography, DreamGirl…My Life As A
Supreme. DreamGirl went on to sell over 250,000 copies in hardback, becoming
one of the most successful rock and roll autobiographies of all time.
The overwhelming success of that first book prompted Wilson to pen its
sequel, Supreme Faith…Someday We’ll Be Together. Currently, The third book by
Mary Wilson combines the first two books with additional updated chapters.
Throughout her career, Mary Wilson has had the privilege and pleasure of
performing all over the world. Royalty requested many of her performances with
The Supremes, such as for Britain’s Queen Mother as well as for the King of
Sweden. In 2000, Wilson had the prestigious honor of performing at the White
House for the Millennium Celebration as well as two inaugural dinners held in
President Bush’s honor.
In 1988, The Supremes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
receiving the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, which Wilson personally
accepted. Seven years later, the Hall launched an exhibit of the “Supremes”
gowns for the museum’s opening in Cleveland, Ohio called The Supremes
Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection. Wilson had been
personally archiving the gowns for years. The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy
Collection, including the Butterfly dresses worn on their 1968 television special,
is currently on tour in the United Kingdom.
With a successful solo career – and new CD out this spring – an equally
successful literary career and her tireless humanitarian efforts, Mary’s future
couldn’t look brighter. She is living proof that dreams really do come true!
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