Mary Wilson discusses women, music, history and dreams Featured

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Legends of Motown: Celebrating The Supremeswill be on display through Sept. 3.
The exhibit features rare photographs from Wilson's personal collection, concert posters,tour books, fan memorabilia, and an assortment of performance gowns.
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As Mary Wilson, founding member of The Supremes, entered the room at the Grammy Museum Mississippi, she greeted everyone with a smile and a sip of her tea before pointing to one of the gowns in a display and requesting that it be lifted higher so as not to wrinkle.
Her glamour absolutely commanded the room from perfectly in place makeup right down to sparkling electric blue shoes.
Wilson said she learned from the school children touring that morning she'd been in the business for 59 years.
"As I look back, I think what must have happened to our parents when we came along with the rock and roll stuff. They probably were experiencing the same thing we are, 'I don’t listen to that rap music' and I'm sure our parents were saying 'I don't listen to this rock and roll!' We're in that phase where things have totally changed.
"The music business is nothing like it was and I'm sure that when we started it was nothing it was before us. The thing that has changed majorly is the technology. In the music industry, the digital downloads have really changed things," she said.
Wilson mentioned the Classics Act Bill. "It has to do with post 1972. The artists who recorded after that time get paid whenever their songs are played on the digital radio or streaming. The ones prior to '72 do not get paid when their music is played on the air. This is one of the things that we as artists are facing right now and it's one of the major changes in the industry," she said.
Wilson reminisced about purchasing music when she was younger and said no more are there mom and pop record stores where people can lose themselves exploring album covers.
Wilson said awareness of their music has a lot to do with the older generation teaching the younger.
"Parents typically are the ones that teach their children about The Supremes. It's the generational situation but it also has to do with women. A lot of the times the males will get more attention, I don't care if it's film, music, they die, whatever, they get more attention than the women do and I would to think that The Supremes, being black, fall into that as well.
"We were not drama queens. We were glamour and glamorous but we didn't have a lot of negativity going on. We were clean girls and no one wants to hear about clean news they want to hear dirty news," she said with a chuckle.
"The reason I think this (the exhibit) is such a wonderful thing is to show not only the younger generations but younger artists who are very famous today that this was going on 50 something years ago. We didn't start it, we stood on the shoulders of people like Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, there were many many women but they did not have the opportunities that we had.
"Each generation, when they come along, are given a platform that was set before them and they can take that and move to another platform," she said.
She said through the exhibit she shows that The Supremes were neck-in-neck with artists such as The Beatles.
Wilson was a founding member of The Supremes and saw the group through to its end in 1977 before beginning her solo career.
"The beginning was the most magical. Motown was there, our writers and producers as well as our etiquette lady — so many people helped us to become Supremes. For me to have been there the entire time, I was in heaven. It was one of those things where dreams do come true and I was there to be a part of it," she said.
Surrounded by the glitter and glitz of gowns, records, and microphone, Wilson describes the fairytale that came true.
"For me it was a real Cinderella story. I got to be a real Cinderella. I call it Black American Princess. It was like a dream come true and I think every little girl wants to grow up to be a princess or special. My granddaughter says, ‘We're girly girls, aren’t we Grandma?' and I say, 'Oh, yes.' Every little girl has that kind of a dream. It was really magical. If I had to do it all over again I would and still be Mary Wilson, maybe richer," she said.
After discussing her career and music with over 100 school students earlier in the morning, Wilson said she hopes these children remember to dream.
"The theme of my lectures is dare to dream. That’s what I told them and asked of them is to dare to dream over and over again. If something doesn’t come true, you can always do it again. I'm doing it now. I'm taking acting classes, vocal classes, dancing classes. You just keep on learning and teaching yourself. Life is all a lesson," she said.
Wilson added she is working on her fourth book, a coffee table book about her gowns, which will be published sometime next year.

Last modified onWednesday, 14 March 2018 19:13

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