Friday, March 6, 2009
MARY WILSON: SEXY LEGENDARY SUPREME CELEBRATES 65TH BIRTHDAY AND HOW SHE MADE AN IMPACT ON MY LIFE
Have you ever wanted to meet a famous person so bad, and when you did, it was more than what you have anticipated?
That's what it was like when I met Motown legend Mary Wilson in August of 1998 after her concert at the annual Bandshell concerts series. I had arrived at the concert in Supreme fashion: red t-shirt, leather vest, black slacks and dress shoes (As I mentioned in past posts, I don't wear hip-hop attire when I attend any Motown artist concert), and waited online. As soon as I paid my five dollars, I bumped into Frances the President and founder of the now defuncted SMV-Supremes-Marveletes-Vandellas fan club, who was there with her sister Linda, and close friends Danny and Phillip Howell. After we spoke I had sat towards the back, and when she came onstage, I was in heaven; I was actually seeing my idol live for the first time, and when she asked some fans to get on stage with her for a medley of Supreme hits, I tried to get onstage, but she had enough fans on stage and I was pissed. After her set was over, I linked up with Fran, Linda, Danny and Phillip, where the former spoke to Mary's co-host, who got us backstage to meet the idol, and I was saying to myself 'I'm gonna be Mr. Professional' but as soon as entered her dressing room, she greeted me with a kiss.
"Hello darling" Mary said as she kissed me on both of my cheeks.
I was in shock! I couldn't beleive that I was kissed by the original Supreme!!
We all spoke, took pictures, and I asked her if I could interview her for my school newspaper.
"Do you have a business card" she asked.
"Sorry I don't" I replied.
"Don't go no where. You got a pen"
I pulled out my pad and pen, and she wrote her business number for me to call
"Call me" she said.
I was really excited, blessed and honored: most artists well tell a person to contact their manager, publisict and assistant, but for her to give me her number showed me how down to earth she was, and I was excited when I got the picture developed. A few months later, I send her a copy of my review of the concert along with the picture we took, and a few weeks later, I received a message that somebody from her office had called, and I spoke to her former assitant Yolanda, (who sounded just like her over the telephone) who informed me that Mary was interested in doing a telephone inteview with me, and I was gamed. 3 months later, I had my first telephone interview, and it was fun. I asked her about her career, fake singing groups who pretend to be members of groups they had no part in creating, Jean Terrell's contributions to the group, being a Grandmother, and what she felt about the current artists.
A few weeks later, I received a post card from her thanking me for the articles and interview.
Thank you for the newspapers
I sincerely appreciate your enthuasiasm and dedication to The Suprmes' Legacy and my current career.
From that moment on, I knew I was going to continue being a lifelong fan, and I have; I attened a few more of her concerts and actually got onstage with her during her Supremes medley, including in 2001 when she unbuttoned my shirt during a performance of "Stop! In The Name of Love" as my best friend Windel, who I treated to his first concert looked on in shock and amazement. He couldn't believe that she was that bold to flirt with me like that and we even cracked a joke about it
"Supreme Seduces Church Boy at Concert"
The first time I heard about Mary Wilson was in 1986 when I was watching the show "Putting on the Hits" where she was one of the judges, and she informed the crowd that she was writing a book about her life, and a few weeks later, I read an article Ebony did on her, and I knew I had to get her book and when my aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her Mary Wilson's book, and when I got the book, I read it in one day and did a report for my reading class and got and A, and began to get into Motown music, during a time when the kids were into New Jack Swing and Hip-Hop. I even did a presentation of her for my Boy Scout troop and got great feedback from the audience who was impressed with my love and knowledge of Motown and for memorizing my speech.
What do I admire about Mary Wilson? She has many qualities that I admire about her
1. Her beauty. This woman looks good, and you wouldn't think nor beleive she turned 65. She has an natural beauty that says I'm proud to be a beautiful woman. When my friend Brandon went to the premiere of the film "Standing In The Shadows of Motown" he was telling me how the thugs in Harlem was giving Mary her props by saying "Mary you still look good!!"
2. Her voice. Mary has a voice that is soothing, yet sexy. It made not be powerful, but she uses it to her advantage on material that it's well suited for including her live rendition of Sting's classic ballad "Fields of Gold" as well as the Joe Cocker classic "You Are So Beautiful" and her 1995 comeback single "U," but it was when I bought The Supremes 2000 boxed set that I became captivated by her voice after hearing the group's 1971 single "Touch" which Mary shared lead vocals with Diane Ross' replacement. When I heard Mary sing the opening lyrics "Darling just relax. You melt me like hot candle wax" I was like she better work!! I can see why Frank Wilson wrote that song especially for her, because she gave the song the sexiness and soufulness, and I'm pissed at the label for not promoting this gem, but it goes to show that people recognize a good love song when they hear it. I played it for one of my friends to get his feedback, and he told me he loved it, which is why I included it on his tape of love songs. I also have it in my playlist whenever I wanna relax alone or when a date comes by.
3. Her love for the fans. Whenever Mary performs at certain venues, she always takes time to greet the fans by signing autographs and taking photgraphs. Especially those she's known since the 60's, and there have been times when the secuirty had to rush her, she manages to stick around for a few extra moments to spend time with the old teenagers.
4. Maintaining The Supremes Legacy. For many years, many critics and industry people have always had their vision and conclusion about the Supremes.
Diane/Diana Ross was the one who rocketed to superstardom, while Florence Ballard died in poverty and Mary was the background singer. When Mary released her book, she gave the world and some narrow-minded critics a different look at the group, and let people knew that the world fell in love with three Black Females from Detroits Brewster's projects, and a female from the projects in Candem New Jersey-Cindy Birdsong, who replace Flo and became one of the world's famous and loved Supremes, though she's not an original member of the group.
Whenever The Supremes have been honored with Lifetime acheivement Awards, Mary has always accepted on behalf of the group as well as arragend for one of Florence's daughters to appear and accept on behalf of their late mother who founded the group, where as Diane has never appeared nor written a speech acknowledging her tenure with the group that helped her for her solo career.
The media finally saw the light when Diane planned the Return To Love tour, where she was receiving 15-20 million dollars, while Wilson was offered 2 million and Cindy was offered less then 1 million. In addition to receiving more money, Mary had every right to be more involved with the preparation of the tour since she was the only original member who stayed with the group until they disbanded in 1977 as well as hired former Supremes Lynda and Scherrie, who Diane asked to be a part of the tour a year before Mary and Cindy was asked. She and Cindy should have gotten an equal amount instead of chump change, and it's messed up when you have a bunch of baggy jean-timbs-nike-do-rag wearing kids saying that how Mary was treated was foul.
Yes Diane was the lead singer of the group's classic hits, but Mary, Flo and Diane all started out together as friends and bandmates, and when Flo was asked to leave, Cindy Birdsong filled her spot and contiued to perform with Mary though out the 70's.
Like my friend said; that tour could have went off without a hitch. All she (Diane) had to do was humble herself, but no it had to be her way or no way at all, so the Lord said No Way. In other words, her Karma caused the tour to be canceled. (Hopefully Diane will see the light)
5. Fighting to stop fake groups from performing. Mary has also been leading a crusade to stop bogus groups from pretending to be members of group they had no part in creating. For years, there have been groups pretending to be The Coasters, The Drifters, The Marvelettes, who perform the orignal and authentic group's material live, while the original and surviving members find it hard to get gigs because promoters purchased the groups names and hire young members.
I remember attending a Motown review concert in 1997, and when I learned that there was some fake Marvelettes performing, I became pissed to the point of speaking to my school newspaper editor at that time, who encouraged me to write an article about it, and I got some great feedback includind Frances, who asked if the article could be placed in the newsletter. I gave her permission to do so, because like I want to see the real thing. Not no fake ass bitches (I'm refering to both the men and females who claim to be members of groups they had no part in creating), and I'm so happy that the Truth In Rock Bill has been made into a law in several states including Las Vegas, which states that a group must have at least an original member performing. If not, they aren't allowed to perform, and the promoters can be sued and fined. If they don't have an original member, they must refer to themselves as a tribute band.
6. Her determination to realize her dreams and not to take things for granted.
One of the things I admire about Mary was her going to college to pursue her degree from NYU after the death of her youngest son Rafael. Though she was performing, and making money, Mary had always kept writing and reading, and she had always wanted to pursue her college education. She had spoken about how her late mother Johnnie Mae, who deprived of an decent education due to a childhood illness, always stressed the importance of education to Mary and her siblings, and one of her dreams was to see one of her children attend college, so in 1995, Mary moved to New York City, and enrolled in NYU, and received an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts at the age of 57.
Talk of determination; she was doing papers while on the plane, the bus, and in between shows.
Many people have always wondered why I admire Mary Wilson? Reading her books and seeing her live made me realize I was able to do anything I put my mind to, and there were times when people would get pissed at me for doing things that I felt was best for me and not them.
As a child, I was always into all types of music, and some of the kids used to tease me for being into Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Culture Club instead of Rap, and though I learned to appreaciate Hip-Hop, I always find myself listening to classic soul music.
When I was in boy scouts, I did presentations on many famous Black entertainers, and there were a few adults (including a school teacher) who would have preferred me doing presentations on Politicans and Scientist instead of singers. There were many
however, who admired me for doing presentations on musicians who they grew up listening to, and who have also made it.
One of the biggest things I did was leave that cult I was in. After being in that place for six years, I decided to leave to embrace my sexuality, and to focus on my education, and when I told the leader my reasons for leaving (which also included tired of being disrespected by members who had chips on their shoulders), he tried to get me to stay by saying they weren't like other churches, and I needed to seek the Kingdom. When I told him that I was tired of being disrespected and I was afraid of getting hurt again, he told me he knew it was gonna hurt, but the brothers missed me. When I told him I wanted to focused on my education, he said I was becoming humanistic, and tried to negoatiate a deal with me attending services days I couldn't attend as well as used a scare tactic that didnt' work. After speaking to a few close friends, and attending an after-party, I decided that it was time to leave (though it was hard for me to tell the leader no when he called the following day, but once I got an email to attend the screening of the documentary about The Funk Brothers, that made my decision a little bit easier; I decided not to return and didn't call either. Like Mary said in her book about her relationship with her ex-husband, he learned that I may not say much, but once I say something, I mean it. I'm still working in that area, but my actions spoke louder than my words.
One of the biggest things I did was perform a routine of her songs at a retreat three years ago. I usually lip-synch to songs by my favorite artists when I'm alone, or when I'm with friends, but I never had the strength to perform them live in front of an audience, but that happened when I attended a retreat three years ago; I had was excited, but scared because
1, It would be my first time lip-synching in front of a medium audience
2. I didn't know which songs I would perform
3. My knee was giving me problems
4. I was afraid of getting read (we all know Gays are hard to impress at times).
The days leading up to the performance, I listened to the songs and decided to do songs I felt comfortable doing, and when it came time for the talent show, I was the 3rd person to go on and the first performer, so I went for it dedicating my performance to my grandmother, Obie Benson and Laurence Payton of The Four Tops and Flo Ballard and lip-syncing to live versions of Mary's rendition of "Reflections" and her solo hit "U" and once the crowd began to clap, I had fun, and got lots of positive feedback.
"You're performance was ova!"
"You did good."
"Keep on praticing!"
One guy even called me Miss. Wilson.
Those are many things I admire about Miss Mary Wilson. She has inspired me in many ways and I've been blessed to have the opportunity to interview her twice and meet her 8 times, and I want to thank her and wish her a happy birthday.
SONGS PLAYED AND INSPIIRED FOR THIS BLOG
YOU CAN'T HURRY LOVE
COME SEE ABOUT ME
BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN
STOP! IN THE NAME OF LOVE
YOU KEEP ME HANGIN' ON
PEFORMED BY MARY WILSON-TAKEN FROM HER LIVE DVD
ALL TOP SONGS WRITTEN BY BRIAN HOLLAND-LAMONT DOZIER-EDDIE HOLLAND
FIELDS OF GOLD
WRITTEN BY STING
WRITTEN BY MARK SEXX AND SHEA
ORIGINALLY RELEASED IN 1995 AND IS FEATURED ON MARY'S CD "I AM CHANGING" WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON HER WEBSITE
WALK THE LINE
ORIGINALLY RELEASED IN 1992
PERFORMED BY THE SUPREMES
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY FRANK WILSON
1971 MOTOWN RECORDS
LEAD VOCALS: MARY WILSON AND JEAN TERRELL
HE'S MY MAN
PERFORMED BY THE SUPREMES
WRITTEN BY GREG WRIGHT & KATHY PATTERSON
PRODUCED BY GREG WRIGHT
1975 MOTOWN RECORDS
LEAD VOCALS: MARY WILSON AND SCHERRIE PAYNE
YOU ARE THE HEART OF ME
PERFORMED BY THE SUPREMES
WRITTEN BY M.L. SMITH AND EDDIE HOLLAND, JR
PRODUCED BY BRIAN HOLLAND
1977 MOTOWN RECORDS
LEAD VOCALS: MARY WILSON