Mary Wilson (born March 6, 1944) is an American vocalist, best known as a founding member of The Supremes. Wilson remained with the group following the departures of other original members, Florence Ballard in 1967 and Diana Ross in 1970. Following Wilson's own departure in 1977, the group disbanded. Wilson has since released three solo albums, five singles and two best selling autobiographies, Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme, a record setter for sales in its genre and Supreme Faith: Someday We'll Be Together, both books later released as an updated combination. Continuing a successful career as a concert performer, Wilson also became a musicians' rights activist as well as a musical theater performer and organizer of various museum displays of the Supremes' famed costumes. Wilson was inducted along with Ross and Ballard (as members of the Supremes) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
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The Supremes; wrote Dreamgirls
Diana Ross, Jennifer Hudson
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Johnnie Mae Wilson
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Mary Wilson (born March 6, 1944) is an American vocalist, best known as a founding member of the popular sixties group The Supremes. Wilson remained as member of the group following the departures of group mates Diana Ross and Florence Ballard until the group disbanded in 1977. Wilson has since released two solo albums and released two autobiographies, Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme and Supreme Faith: Someday We'll Be Together, both books later released as an updated combination. Wilson has since carried on her career as a concert performer, musical activist and organizer of various museum displays of the Supremes' famed costumes. Wilson was inducted alongside Ross and Ballard as member of the Supremes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Wilson was born to Sam and Johnnie Mae Wilson in Greenville, Mississippi. Wilson was the eldest of Johnnie Mae's three children including a brother, Roosevelt, and a sister, Catherine. Wilson's parents divorced before she was one and she was shifted, first to St. Louis and then to Chicago before living with her aunt Ivory "I.V." and uncle John L. Pippin in Detroit. Wilson reunited with her mother and siblings soon afterwards. To make ends meet, Wilson's mother worked as a domestic worker. Before reaching her teenage years, Wilson and her family had settled at Detroit's upstart housing project, the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects.
Wilson first met Florence Ballard at a junior high school in Detroit. The duo became friends after the youngsters performed at a singing competition. In 1959, Ballard asked Wilson to audition for Milton Jenkins, who was forming a sister group to his male vocal quartet, the Primes. Wilson was soon accepted in the group known as The Primettes, with Diana Ross and Betty McGlown later added to the lineup. Wilson has said that she was the one to help recruit Ross to the group despite some biographers crediting then Primes member Paul Williams for the move. Wilson eventually graduated from Detroit's Northeastern High School in 1962. Despite her mother's insistence she go to college, Wilson instead focused on her music career.
Main article: The Supremes
The Primettes signed to Motown Records in 1961, changing their name to The Supremes. In between that period, McGlown was replaced by Barbara Martin. In 1962, the group was reduced to a trio after Martin's departure. The Supremes scored their first hit in 1963 with the song, "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes", and reached number-one on the pop charts for the first time with the hit, "Where Did Our Love Go", becoming their first of ten number-one singles in which Wilson contributed as member of the group.
By 1967, the group had become international superstars. That year, Motown president Berry Gordy changed the name of the group to Diana Ross & The Supremes and, after a period of tension, Florence Ballard was removed from the Supremes that July. Cindy Birdsong was chosen to take her place. The Supremes under their new lineup continued to sporadically record hit singles until Ross' departure in early 1970. Following their final performance with Ross, Jean Terrell was introduced as the replacement for Ross. According to Wilson in her memoirs, Berry Gordy told Wilson that he thought of having Syreeta Wright join the group as lead singer to which Wilson refused. According to Wilson, Gordy told her that he would "wash his hands of the group".
With Terrell, the Supremes continued recording hits such as "Up the Ladder to the Roof", "Stoned Love", "Nathan Jones" and "Floy Joy" through 1972. Wilson contributed partial lead vocals to Supremes songs during that period including the hit "Floy Joy".
The Supremes in 1964. Left to right: Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross.
After 1972, the Supremes struggled with recordings and frequent lineup changes. By 1975, Jean Terrell had been replaced by Scherrie Payne while Lynda Laurence briefly replaced Cindy Birdsong, before Birdsong returned to the group in early 1974. In 1976, Birdsong left for good and was replaced by Susaye Greene. During a two-year interim in which they struggled to produce a new contract with Motown, the group kept on a stringent touring schedule. In 1976, the group scored their final hit single with "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking". A year later, Wilson left The Supremes following a performance at London's Drury Lane Theatre in late 1977. After Payne and Greene unsuccessfully lobbied to get a replacement for Wilson, the Supremes officially disbanded.
Wilson got involved in a protracted legal battle with Motown over management of the Supremes. After an out-of-court settlement, Wilson signed with Motown for solo work, releasing a disco-heavy self-titled album in 1979. The album and its singles, "Red Hot" and "Pick Up the Pieces" failed
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New York University
Greenville, Mississippi, United States
Brown - Dark
Music Genre (Text)
Motown (1961–1980), CEO Records (1991–1992), H-D-H Records (2009 – present)
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