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Smile!

Posted in Smile! on April 30th, 2011 by MaryWilson

Thank you to Lee and TIMCATPRODUCTIONS on Youtube for sharing this adorable video!

A Supreme moment for Aberdeen Proving Ground

Posted in News on April 8th, 2011 by MaryWilson

Mary sings the group’s hit “You Can’t Hurry Love”, during her speaking engagement at Aberdeen Proving Ground Thursday. Accompanying her were, from left, Dr. Victoria Dixon, Karen Taylor and Cynthia Peterson, of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, center.

Singer, author, cultural ambassador Mary Wilson visits post to laud accomplishments of women

By Mary Paramore of The Aegis from ExploreHarford.com

Mary Wilson is more than a pretty voice. The founding member of the ’60s and ’70s recording group The Supremes is also an author, cultural ambassador and humanitarian.

Wilson was keynote speaker Thursday at a Women’s History Month celebration at Aberdeen Proving Ground organized by the Army Test and Evaluation Command.

To the delight of more than 200 people who attended the event in the new C4ISR complex on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Wilson sang three songs and proved that, at a vivacious 67, she’s still a pretty voice, too.

Wilson said she’s written two books and is an active international humanitarian, but her fame still comes from The Supremes, the most successful female group from the rock ’n’ roll era that was organized in Detroit in 1959 amid the country’s civil rights unrest. The group disbanded in 1977, but remains the only one with five consecutive number one hits in the U.S.

Wilson credits her Supremes fame (though mostly the trio’s background singer, she was the group’s only member to stay from its beginning to end) with allowing her to achieve her own dream of serving others and putting her in a position to improve the outlook for women and influence the nation’s race relations.

“When we started singing, there were hardly any women in the workplace. And now,” she said, gesturing toward audience member Karen Taylor, ATEC’s first female chief of staff, “look how far we’ve come.”

This progress isn’t shared by the world’s women, Wilson said. In 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell chose Wilson as one of nine U.S. cultural ambassadors. She went to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mozambique and Botswana to “travel the world and talk about how great America is.”

Acknowledging soldiers and civilian staff members in the audience, Wilson said, “It’s gratifying to be able to travel to different places and see the great work the armed forces is doing. I also see how far women have come. All these places we went, we had to deal with men. Now that’s OK, but it was only men. Women in other countries don’t have the opportunity we have here. They don’t know their dreams can come true.”

Wilson was 13 when she started singing. She talked talked about touring in the racially segregated South in the early 1960s, when Motown Records talent, including The Supremes, The Temptations and “Little” Stevie Wonder broke down racial barriers enough for whites and blacks to gather together and dance to their music.

Pointing to the left and right sections the auditorium, Wilson said, “The whites were here and the blacks were over here. Only we were Negroes back then. I saw how music would bring everyone together in the middle.”

Wilson grew up in Detroit’s Brewster-Douglass Housing projects. Her first gig was a school talent show, where she met the late Florence Ballard. It was Ms. Ballard’s idea to form a singing group with schoolmates Diane Ross (later Diana Ross) and Betty McGlown (who left the group before it became famous in order to start a family).

“There was this boy group called The Primes and they wanted a sister group, so we became the Primettes,” Wilson recalled. “We began singing at local sock hops and on radio shows.”

At 15, the girls auditioned for Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy Jr., who told them to come back after they graduated from high school.

“Every day, Florence and I would hitchhike to Motown and sit there. Pretty soon we were inside,” she said. “One day they needed background singers and we were like ‘We’ll do it!’ That’s how we got a record deal. It’s not about being obnoxious. But persistent.”

By the way, members of The Primes also later found fame as some of The Temptations. And, Wilson and Ms. Ballard’s back-up gig was for the late Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness,” a Motown crossover hit.

The highlight of Wilson’s appearance at APG was undoubtedly her unscheduled but widely hinted at vocal performances. The real surprise was that she was accompanied by ATEC equal employment opportunity officers Dr. Victoria Dixon and Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Pearson, dressed in Supremes-like black gowns and feather boas. They called ATEC chief of staff Taylor to the stage with them.

During “Can’t Hurry Love,” Wilson chuckled at their vocal exuberance and told the sound crew to turn up the recorded instrumentals. “Stop, in the Name of Love” was their next number. As a finale, Wilson sang solo on “I Am Changing” from the musical “Dreamgirls,” which is loosely based on The Supremes’ story.

Wilson’s performance may not have been a dream come true for one audience member, but was close to it.

India Dunn, 17, attended the performance with Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, a voluntary military style youth program based at APG.

“She’s like a legend,” India said. “I remember all her songs. I mean, I wasn’t around during her time, but I know them.”

India said she sings a little herself, but she was most impressed by Wilson’s remarks about education.

“She’s for the people,” India said of Wilson. “I like when she said how our country spends money on the military and we should spend as much on our children’s education.”

Listen to Mary’s Interview on BBC Radio 4

Posted in News on April 5th, 2011 by MaryWilson

Mary was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 during her UK tour. Click here to listen to the broadcast.

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