Mary Wilson: ‘I have become the woman I always wanted to be.’

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Mary Wilson was part of the musical phenomenon known as the Supremes. She has had a remarkable solo career spanning decades, with several recordings and appearances both here in this country and abroad. I had the opportunity to talk with her recently about her special feelings for her friends in New Jersey and Philadelphia.


I asked her about her show at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey, on November 7. “My show will feature the highlights of my career, from the Supremes to my own music,” she said, adding, “My fans won’t be shortchanged, since I will perform their favorites, as well as a few new songs we have planned.” She continued: “Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones and I will tour Europe from October to November, and I will interrupt that tour to fly to New Jersey to do that one show in Englewood, New Jersey, since I do not want to disappoint my fans. It was booked a long time ago, before the tour came about, and there was no way that I was going to cancel it. I have many friends and family in New Jersey, and many loyal fans.” When asked if she will be appearing in the Philadelphia area or in New Jersey again soon, she said, “I do try to appear here in New Jersey and in Philadelphia every so often, in one or more of my different shows, but this show in November will be the only one in the area for now.”


Mary Wilson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. She now lives in Los Angeles and Las Vegas because, as she says, “Those winters up north were just getting too much for me to handle.” What most people don’t know is that she lived for a while in New York City, where she attended New York University in the mid-1990s, in the School of Continuing Education, earning an Associate’s Degree. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did it. I wasn’t concerned with any major, since I had already become the woman I always wanted to be, and achieved a successful career in music,” she stated, adding that she has been awarded honorary doctorates as well.


Speaking of her career in music, Mary Wilson had this to say: “I’m finishing up a CD. It is all but complete except for one song we are working on, and when that one song is the way we want it, the CD will be released.” When asked if the CD might be ready for Christmas, she quickly responded, “Oh no! Not Christmas, but early in 2015.” This led to the question whether or not she might do a Christmas album. “I might get around to doing it. There are many songs I would like to record. As far as holiday songs go, I did record a Mother’s Day song for my mother, “Darling Mother.”  


She has a song, “Life’s Been Good to Me,” which was first released in the United Kingdom, did very well, and is now here.  I asked Mary Wilson about the recent trend to have collaborators on albums. Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa, Barbra Streisand with several singers, as well as others were mentioned. Was there anyone who she would like to collaborate with on an album? “Well, my friend, Rita Coolidge, and I always wanted to do something, and there are so many talented artists out there today, I would seriously consider it.” She added, “as far as great artists go, Tony Bennett is number one. He’s a great singer, a great man, and a great person. You can’t say that about everyone, but he definitely can be called a great artist.”


The costumes that the Supremes wore were featured for many months recently in a hit gallery installation at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. I asked who might be favorite designers of hers now. “I really don’t have anyone in particular. I just keep an eye out for clothes that flatter my body and are age-appropriate for someone like me.” I said that I found that incredible, that she would just buy things off the rack? ‘Yes, I do, but I will say that I do like the clothes by the young designer B. Michaels out of New York City.”


When our interview was ending, Mary Wilson thanked me, pronouncing my last name without skipping a beat. I told her that I was impressed by the ease she had in pronouncing it. “Well, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, growing up in Detroit, there were a lot of Black people, but a lot of White people, too, and I went to school with Polish boys and girls. So, you see, enjoying and embracing diversity isn’t something that’s new to me.”


Mary Wilson will be performing at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey, on November 7. For more information, visit: 



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