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From The Vault (2013): In Conversation With Mary Wilson, Founder Of The Supremes

Written by on February 8, 2022

Pictured above: Mary Wilson, founding member of The Supremes, poses on the roof of Capitol Records on Thursday, June 12, 2014, in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

“I think the trick about life… is to really choose happiness.”

-Mary Wilson

Today marks one year since the passing of Mary Wilson, original member of The Supremes and integral part of Motown.

Mary Wilson, former member of the Motown singing group The Supremes, shakes hands with one of the many fans who showed up for the dedication of the 2,026th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring The Supremes in Los Angeles, March, 11, 1994. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Before Motown singer Mary Wilson helped found The Supremes — the best-charting female group in U.S. history — she got her start as a teenager in Detroit.

After performing together in a school talent show, Wilson, 15 years old at the time, was soon convinced by her friend Florence Ballard to join singing group The Primettes. There, she was introduced to fellow vocalists Diana Ross and Betty McGlown. Two years later — with McGlown replaced by Barbara Martin — the group signed to Motown Records and were renamed The Supremes in 1961.

Although The Supremes struggled initially compared to other Motown artists, the next several years brought unprecedented success. With 10 number-one hits from 1964 to 1967, the group also garnered international attention through featured performances on The Dean Martin Show, The Hollywood Performance and The Ed Sullivan Show. Following the departures of Ballard in 1967 and eventually Ross in 1970, Wilson held The Supremes together with various other members until their complete dissolution in 1977.

Following her time with The Supremes, Mary Wilson found individual success through her memoir, Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme — which was named New York Times bestseller in 1986. Released four years later, her second memoir, Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together, was also a bestseller. In 1988, Wilson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Supremes, alongside Diana Ross and Florence Ballard.

Former Vocalo on-air host Jill Hopkins had the opportunity to meet with Mary Wilson in 2013 to discuss her Holiday Spectacular with Duke Fakir of The Four Tops. Wilson warmheartedly offers life advice and reveals some of her favorite artists.

In celebration of her spirited, joyful energy and outlook on life, we look back on this interview and her legacy a year following her Feb. 8, 2021 passing. Stream their conversation on Soundcloud below.

Written by Milo Keranen

Interview by Jill Hopkins

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