Thursday, June 9, 2011

I got to meet Mary Wilson of The Supremes!

We had a special, and I mean special, guest speaker at last Monday's meeting of the Henderson Writers' Group.  One of our members, Don Riggio, arranged for Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Motown singing group The Supremes to drop in and talk to us for a while.  Mary wrote the forward to Don's book, Seven Inch Vinyl, a  novel set in the early days of rock 'n' roll.  The story is engaging and with so many historical references, the book is quite educational as well.

What a treat!  Mary (I really feel like I should call her Ms. Wilson) told us all about how she, Diana Ross, and Florence Ballard started singing while still in high school in Detroit and that they were called "The No-Hit Supremes" because they went for so long without a hit record.  She told us about her travels and performances throughout the world and revealed some deeply personal details of her life, such as how the woman she believed to be her mother turned out to be her aunt (a neighbor clued her in by telling her, "Johnnie Mae's you're mother") and the death of her 14-year-old son in a car accident, with she herself at the wheel, years ago on the way to Las Vegas.

Photo by Teresa Watts
Now 68, she looked absolutely stunning.  (You know those black women never age.)  (That's not racist.)  What a beautiful lady, inside and out.  She's still singing and will be performing at the Riviera from June 22 - July 3, a show I definitely hope to see.  Ms. Wilson also frequently speaks to young people about persevering to achieve one's goals despite obstacles and adversities in their lives. In addition, she's a strong advocate for The Supremes' legacy and has made headlines for proposing a bill to ban impostor groups from using the names and likenesses of famous acts from the 1950s and 1960s.  Evidently there are many groups out there doing just that, while the original members often live in poverty.

This is funny as hell.   I swear to God, while talking about these imposter groups Mary said, "And you know black people all look alike," with a completely straight face. "No, we really do!" she insisted. 

Well. that's something only a black person can say, but it's not too far off from what I wrote in a post in April 2010 entitled, "It's okay, all hippies look alike, too":
It’s always nice when the guys in the tribute band physically resemble the members of the actual band. During the show last night I was thinking if I ever went to a Temptations or Earth, Wind and Fire or O’Jays tribute band, I’d be totally happy as long as there was a bunch of black guys on stage. In fact, you could sell me a ticket to an O’Jay’s concert and substitute the real band with tribute guys and I totally wouldn’t know the difference. Kind of like the old Folger’s instant coffee commercials. We’ve secretly replaced the O’Jays…
See?  I knew I was on to something.

Anyway, it was a real thrill to see Mary Wilson live in front of us.  So gracious, intelligent, and inspiring.  Thank you, Don, for arranging her visit to our group!



I Hate to Weight said...

WOW! you got to meet a real legend. imagine the people SHE'S met. i can't even imagine what her life was like.

very cool

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

No truer words spoken, Linda Lou! Black people don't age quickly. Mary Wilson is gorgeous! What a treat that was for you to have the pleasure of hearing her speak. It's cool when someone shares their life because it really resonates that "your blues ain't like mine". We all have different experiences that bring us to where we are today.

By the way, I saw Purple Reign in Vegas and he was EXACTLY like Prince. I loved it.

Tender Heart Bear said...

She is a very beautiful woman. I remember listening to there music with my mom and dad growing up. Some of there music is really good. That was a real honor for all of you to meet someone like her. I am so happy for you!

Danica said...

How fun! She is very beautiful. I don't know of her, but I know about the Surpremes. :-)

Teresa said...

Meeting Mary Wilson had such an impact on everyone who attended. It is the end of the week and we are all still buzzing about it.
A beautiful genuine person who appreciates all that she has in life. My favorite line from the night -
"Dare to dream over and over and over again."
She said after the Supremes disbanded she thought "okay what do I do now? I was bored! I moved onto the next dream."
She travels the world advocating for the destruction of land mines that are still planted and active, she initiated the Truth In Music Act and it has passed in Nevada, continues to perform and WRITE :)

Donald I too have to thank you for introducing this fabulous humanitarian to us.

Great post Linda!
Nice pic ;)

Debbie said...

ok. i read her book YEARS ago because i always thought she was the prettiest supreme and that diana ross was bit ol beyotch.
and can i just say how lucky you are to actually have a writer's group to attend? where I live there is NOTHING. because i do not live on the west side of L.A. where all the hipsters are. its a righteous bummer. i've often thought of forming my own group out here in my town but don't even know where to begin. it would be really nice to be able to get some constructive feedback on my stuff.

As always Linda, enjoyed your post.