Ms. Wilson still performs with the same passion as she did while singing with the Supremes, but the world renowned celebrity is now also using her fame and flair to promote humanitarian efforts to end hunger, raise AIDS awareness and encourage world peace. Wilson has written a best-selling autobiography, performed on stage and screen, lectures and tours the world, and continues to be looked up to as a singer who set the standard for women in the recording industry.
Born in Mississippi in 1944, Mary Wilson’s show business dreams began to come true much sooner than expected. In 1959, when she was just 15 years old, she was discovered by manager Milton Jenkins, who picked her to lead a new group called The Primettes, an all-female answer to his popular male doo-wop group, The Primes. Wilson brought childhood friend Florence Ballard into the group who in turn recruited her friend Diana Ross. A fourth member, Betty McGlown, rounded out the quartet and the girls began establishing a reputation while performing at local gigs and functions. Then, in 1961, before even finishing high school, Wilson got her big break. Motown Records signed her, along with friends Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, as The Supremes.
The Supremes eventually began cranking out No. 1 singles at a rate that rivaled the likes of The Beatles and Elvis Presley. The group scored their first Top 40 hit in 1963 with "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes," and began their ascent to the top of the music world. Over the next several years, they churned out a seemingly endless string of enduring singles including "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," and "Stop In the Name of Love." Throughout the 1960s heyday of the Motown era, The Supremes dominated radio play and the Billboard charts, becoming one of America's most beloved musical acts.
Ballard left The Supremes in 1967 and Diana Ross left in 1970 to pursue a solo career, leaving Wilson as the last original member of the group. Wilson continued to perform with The New Supremes until 1977. After a farewell concert at London's Drury Lane Theater, The Supremes officially disbanded and Mary Wilson began her solo career. In 1979, she released her first solo album, and the single "Red Hot" which became a great dance hit. In the 1980s, Wilson toured the globe and began pursuing creative projects outside of music, working on stage acting, movies and philanthropic ventures.
In 1988, The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, forever cementing their place in music history. Now, Wilson has shifted her focus to humanitarian efforts but continues to tour, performing her own music as well as fan-favorites from The Supremes.
For tickets ($57.50), call the box office at 203-438-5795, or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.
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