Mary Wilson is the hardest working woman in show business after more than 50 years. Yes, Mary, 68, and looking like a million bucks, has managed to outlast her Motown curse. The original Supreme, she hung in there after the dismissal of Florence Ballard, the departure of Diana Ross, and countless fights to keep her name. Now Mary is still cooking hot. This summer, and even now, she’s touring with former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and his big band across Europe. She’s recorded her a new single, available on iTunes, and has a jazz album out that contains her stunning versions of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”–a smash in her live show.
This week, Mary was featured in the New York Times for her traveling show of Supremes costumes. It’s gone to Philadelphia for an exhibit. http://runway.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/reliving-the-glamour-of-the-supremes/?ref=style
And, Mary is also filming her first movie, in her hometown of Detroit. It’s an indie called “Golden Shoes,” with a typically eclectic cast including Eric Roberts, Vivica A. Fox, and Montell Williams. “It’s only a small part, a couple of lines, really,” Mary told me before a sold out show she performed in Fairfield, Connecticut. “But it’s a beginning. This way I can see how it’s all done.”
Unflagging optimism has kept her going through tough times. She has a big family, but lost a son in a car accident years ago. He’s always on her mind. But she’s practical, and a survivor. It helps that her voice has gotten richer and deeper over the years. She just found out about the death of Frank Wilson, (no relation) the Motown songwriter who saw her through the post-Ross days with hit singles like “Nathan Jones” and “Up the Ladder to the Roof.” Frank Wilson gave the group a chance to shine without Ross.
In concert, she performs “Someday We’ll Be Together”–the song that Diana Ross recorded as the Supremes, but Wilson or Cindy Birdsong– it was Ross’s surprise farewell from the group. It’s a poignant reminder of what was and what could have been.