Mary Wilson, outspoken co-founder of Motown’s legendary “girl group” The Supremes,
has passed at the age of seventy-six.
In an announcement she suddenly died Monday in her home in Las Vegas her long-standing journalist Jay Schwartz confirmed. The cause of their death has yet to be announced and funeral arrangements will be private due to COVID-19 constraints, Schwartz said.
After signing with Motown in 1961, at the age of just 15, initially as a member of The Primettes, Wilson launched a successful pop and soul trio, known for its silk layered voices and chic synchronised choreography. Berry Gordy, the founder of the Label, soon rebuilt her as the Supreme.
“My condolences to the family of Mary, I am reminded that every day is a donation,” Ross, who Wilson shared in a Tuesday morning often publicly hot relation, said. “I just woke up to this news. “This time together I have so many beautiful remembrances, ‘The Supremes ‘will live on in our hearts.’
Wilson, a Rock-and-Roll hall of fame inductee of 1988, was also iconic in her daring 1986 memoir ‘Dreambuz: My Life As a Supreme’ for her legendary battle of the rights of artists long after break-in lead singer Ross walked out to solo in 1970 and battled for a hard-won legal battle for the rights for artists’ royalty.
In 1967 Cindy Birdsong replaced Ballard and Wilson remained there until the Supreme’s official Motown’s disbanded in 1977.
On Monday night, Motown guru Gordy made a statement saying, “I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supreme. The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hit, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.”
Gordy continued, “I was always proud of Mary. She was quite a star in her own right and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”
Wilson posted a poignant YouTube video on Saturday revealing that an agreement was reached with industry-powerful Universal Music to distribute previously unreleased solo recordings. She also teddled up forthcoming interviews she had made in celebration of Black History Month on her early experience of segregation.
Born 6 March 1944, she and her parents bounced in Greenville, Mississippi, until at 3 years old she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle. With her autobiography, she wrote that until she was 6 she could not figure out her parents’ true identities — later, at the age of 12, in the Detroit Brewster-Douglass Housing Project, she settled with her mother.
In this modest setting, she met the future superstars Ross and Ballard with whom she formed a group to act as a “sister act” to the Primes, a male act featuring the future stars of Motown’s Temptations, Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks.
Her journalist said, at the time of her death, that Wilson was attempting to make a US postage stamp designated for Ballard, Supreme and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s music and the film “Dreamgirls,” which inspires Tony’s winner Jennifer Holiday.
Activism activities by Wilson included visiting Washington, D.C. To petition the Music Modernization Act, passed in 2018.