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Darlene Love’s “Love For the Holidays” with special guests Cissy Houston and Mary Wilson

Posted in Engagements, News on December 21st, 2012 by MaryWilson

December 22nd, 8 PM at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center:

Video: Mary’s Interview with Tavis Smiley

Posted in News on December 21st, 2012 by MaryWilson

Watch The Supremes’ co-founder Mary Wilson on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

TV Alert: Tavis Smiley

Posted in News on December 6th, 2012 by MaryWilson

Mary and Mark Bego were interviewed by Tavis Smiley to promote the new My Supremes: 50th Anniversary magazine, available on news stands now. The show will air next week on local PBS stations across the country, beginning on Friday, December 14th. It will air in LA on KOCE at 11 PM, in NY on WNET at 12 midnight and re-broadcasted at 1 PM the following Monday. Check your local listings.

My Supremes: 50th Anniversary Celebration Magazine out on December 8th!

Posted in News on December 6th, 2012 by MaryWilson


New York — December 8 will see the official release of the full-color magazine “50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION / MY SUPREMES / MARY WILSON” (Event Bookazines / Hudson News). The 128-page publication, edited by best-selling author Mark Bego, is a lavish and exciting remembrance of the top-selling female singing group of all time: The Supremes. The magazine will be available at Barnes & Nobel, Target, Walmart, Hudson News shops and wherever magazines are sold.

The Supremes were an American female singing group and the premiere act of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records during the entire decade of the 1960s. Originally founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan in 1959, The Supremes’ repertoire included pop, soul, rock & roll, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco. They were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts and are, and to date they are America’s most successful vocal group with 12 Number One singles on the “Billboard” Hot 100. Most of these hits were written and produced by Motown’s main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled The Beatles in worldwide popularity.

Mary Wilson’s career has continued to prosper with a series of well received solo albums, the most recent being “Life’s Been Good To Me” which is due to be released in early 2013. She also wrote the New York Times best-selling memoir: “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme” in 1986.

Best-selling author Bego, who this month also releases his 60th book (his first novel called “Murder at Motor City Records”) first came aboard this project due to his 35 year friendship with Wilson; the two have been friends for years and Bego helped her write her two memoirs. Adds Bego, “Mary and I had been talking about doing some sort of retrospective to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the album ‘Meet The Supremes.’ When we received the offer to do this magazine, it seemed like the perfect way for us to celebrate everything Supreme!”

According to Mary Wilson, “Mark and I have worked on several projects together, and I am thrilled to celebrate the entire legacy of The Supremes in one publication. With this magazine we were able to salute every one of The Supremes, our entire history, every one of our albums, and all of the group’s incarnations from the 1960s to the 1970s—and beyond. We cover several decades of wonderful memories, and of course dozens of our sequined Supremes gowns in this magazine!”

‘Supremes’ Tourism In Philadelphia

Posted in News on December 6th, 2012 by MaryWilson

The stunning Rakia Reynolds, President of Philadelphia fashion-design incubator Skai Blue Media, sat on a small stage with Mary Wilson and a selection of Wilson’s knock-out gowns from her Supreme’s days.

“I am so star struck,” Reynolds gushed, “to interview this legendary woman!”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Wilson, svelte, beautiful and dressed casually in black knit pants and jacket, said humbly. “It’s just us girls.”

Mary Wilson, second only to Diana Ross in name recognition when the topic turns to one of Motown’s most profitable singing groups, is currently promoting her specially curated exhibit, “Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection,” which will be on display at the African American Museum in Philadelphia from January 25 – June 30, 2013. A showcase conceived by Wilson, who has by default become keeper of the Supreme’s gowns (those she can find), this exhibit “brings to mind three little Black girls who dared to dream at a time when it was an impossible dream.” Because Wilson’s mother couldn’t read or write, she wanted her daughter to escape from the projects by being the first in her family to go to college. Wilson managed to do much more.


“I grew up listening to Lena Horn, Ethel Waters….glamorous women,” Wilson began. “Even though we were poor, as kids, we dressed to the nines.” By the time Wilson was tapped by Motown in the early 1960′s at age 16 to become a Supreme, she was already dressing up. “We’d have our $5 pearls from Woolworths.”

Bemoaning the unprofessionalism of our “reality star” era, and the “total collapse” of the recording industry, Wilson misses the dignified way she and her fellow Supremes were coached by specialists, like Maxine Powell, who emphasized grace, refinement and sophistication. “Ms. Powell told us, ‘You girls are diamonds in the rough. Soon enough you’ll be performing for Kings and Queens.’ We were choreographed right down to our hand movements.” Millions of Supremes fans who sing Stop in the Name of Love with its signature palm-out gesture has Maxine Powell to thank for it.

Berry Gordy, then the Grand Poobah of Motown, saw such promise in the girls he called in his best team of writers. “It was all about the talent,” Wilson said. “We weren’t trying to get out the projects, we just wanted to do what we did best. I was still living in the same apartment I grew up in when our first hit record started playing on the radio.”

Gordy also invested in and fostered the careers of dress designers like Bob Mackie, Michael Travis and Pat Campano, who hand-stitched each sequin and bead on the most lavish gowns. “Back then, we traveled by bus. We had to; we had tons of hatboxes, trucks full of gowns and dresses. There wasn’t enough space on an airplane for everything!”

At a time when Blacks were relegated to the back of the bus and separate water fountains, a troupe of glamorous and talented African American women on tour made world headlines.

“It was a tumultuous time in American history,” Wilson said. “We gave a face to the Civil Rights struggle, and helped the world embrace Black culture. The music was an ambassador for bringing people together.”

Plan to visit Philly in early 2013 to see thirty of the most glamorous gowns in R&B history, each with its own back-story.

There’s one with the “baby bump” that Wilson wore while pregnant, the Bob Mackie black velvet number – voluminous sleeves covered in paisley patterned gold and pearl beads, the pink chiffon gown Wilson claims as her “least favorite” and twenty-seven other singular designs that have indeed graced three Black girls from the projects as they preformed for Kings and Queens and, of course, for the rest of us.

“Come See About Me,” The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection, in cooperation with Blair-Murrah Exhibitions and presented by PNC Arts Alive will be on display from late January through June 2013.

Earl ‘Speedo’ Carroll, beloved singer of New York-style vocal harmony in the 1950s, dies at 75

Posted in News on December 6th, 2012 by MaryWilson

Carroll, who became a custodian at Public School 87 on the upper West Side in the 1980s, was known in the music world for more than five decades as one of the lead singers of the Cadillacs.


Monday, November 26, 2012, 12:56 AM

Earl “Speedo” Carroll, one of the most colorful and beloved singers of New York-style vocal harmony in the 1950s, died Sunday at a city nursing home. He was 75.

He had been in failing health for the past year, suffering from diabetes, a stroke and other ailments.

Carroll, who became a custodian at Public School 87 on the upper West Side in the 1980s, was known in the music world for more than five decades as one of the lead singers of the Cadillacs.

Their 1950s hits included “Gloria,” “You Are,” “Wishing Well,” “My Girlfriend,” “Peek-a-Boo” and one perennial holiday favorite, a jive version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Perhaps the group’s best-known song, however, was “Speedo,” which was inspired by Carroll’s nickname and on which he sang lead.

Its lyrics went:

“Well, they often call me Speedo

But my real name is Mr. Earl.

Now they gotta call me Speedo

Til they call off making pretty girls.”

Carroll explained in a 1994 interview that he got the nickname because “I always liked to take my time, do things at my own pace. Since I was a kid, the other guys would be telling me, ‘C’mon, hurry up, Speedy.’ ”

The Speedo persona followed him for the rest of his career, and he enhanced it with an oversized stage presence.

The Cadillacs themselves had a rotation of lead singers that made them one of the most versatile vocal groups of the 1950s. Their repertoire ranged from harmony ballads to uptempo novelty-style songs in the same vein as the Coasters.

In the movie “Go Johnny Go,” they lip-synched to two of their novelty tunes, “Please Mr. Johnson” and “Jay Walker.”

Born in New York, Carroll said he started listening to rhythm and blues groups like the Orioles and gospel quartets like the Soul Stirrers and Five Blind Boys before he was a teenager.

By the early 1950s he and three friends from the W. 131st St. and Seventh Ave. area of Harlem were singing together as the Carnations.

They rehearsed at PS 49 and often performed at local school dances. They were eventually spotted by Lover Patterson, a vocal group singer, while performing at PS 43.

Patterson introduced them to Esther Navarro from the Shaw Artist Agency and they signed a contract with Josie Records. They had to change their name because another group was already called the Carnations.

The Cadillacs soon set themselves apart as one of the first groups to wear flashy stage uniforms and put on a dance performance as well as a vocal show. They hired Cholly Atkins of the dance team Coles and Atkins to work up their choreography, and numerous other groups tried to imitate them.

The group had a tumultuous personnel history, though, at one point splitting into two separate outfits, and Carroll left in 1959.

He joined a new edition of the Coasters in 1961 and stayed with them for 20 years. But in 1979 he was asked to re-form the Cadillacs for a Subaru commercial, and after that ad became a national success he kept the group together and went on the road.

That group included Bobby Phillips, Carroll’s lifelong friend who had been in the original Carnations in the 1950s.

At the same time, in 1982, Carroll also took a day job as the PS 87 custodian.

He became a famous figure in the school, inspiring a book called “That’s Our Custodian” by Ann Morris.

Because of his job, the Cadillacs mostly performed on weekends, and he said it was fun to watch the reaction of students who knew him as “the guy with the mop in the daytime and the star on stage at night.”

He said he had also gone back to high school to get the diploma he missed in the 1950s when he dropped out to go on the road with the Cadillacs.

He retired from the school in 2005 and continued to sing with the Cadillacs until his health forced him to quit.

But his songs kept going.

“Back in New York in the ’50s,” recalled Dion DiMucci a few years ago, “one of the tests for any street-corner vocal group was whether you could sing ‘Gloria.’ If you could, you had a chance.”

Read more:

Dare to Dream Lecture

Posted in Mary's Journal, Reviews on December 6th, 2012 by MaryWilson


Your motivational ‘Dare to Dream’ presentation raised the bar of personal perseverance among our students at Jack Yates. This guidance is now rooted in the fertile soil of their souls where confidence and belief give birth to dreams that may once have seemed unattainable. It is within this sphere where they learn to treat obstacles as opportunities for growth and adversity as a doorway to change. The kids recognized and found comfort in the teachable moments you provided. We applaud you for sharing the gift of love, freely, as it was given to you. The Jack Yates Alumni Reunite Committee will forever be grateful to you for accepting the visitation to share your story. We thank God for navigating circumstances during your visit to Houston to share such an up close and personal encounter.

Thank you for extending the spiritual highway that leads to ‘Supreme Faith’.

Terry Singleton

The Jack Yates Alumni Reunite Committee

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