Since her reign as the "sexy" Supreme, there were many potential endings to the Mary Wilson story. A likely scenario could've found Wilson stuffing her face with bon-bons and gaining 300 pounds with "Where Did Our Love Go" playing on an endless loop. Instead, she's written two bestselling books, got a degree from NYU, is lobbying Washington on behalf of the Truth in Music Bill, traveled the world as a cultural ambassador appointed by Colin Powell, and continues to tour nonstop! She lives in Vegas, where I called for a chat. The Supreme Mary Wilson!
OK LET'S START BY PLAYING SOME WORD ASSOCIATION... YOU SAY THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO YOUR HEAD. SMOKEY ROBINGSON
- great composer
- wonderful entrepreneur
- Queen of Soul
- Not what it used to be
- other part of me
- great singer
YOUR FIRST BOOK, "DREAMGIRL: MY LIFE AS A SUPREME," WAS A GREAT, DISHY READ. WHY DID NO ONE TURN IT INTO A MOVIE AT ANY TIME, EVEN FOR TV?
I had gone out to a few companies and at the time it didn't happen. I didn't find as much interest in female stories.
AND NOW BEYONCE IS STARRING IN THE FILM VERSION OF THE "DREAMGIRLS" MUSICAL. DO YOU FEEL A SENSE OF PROPRIETY OVER THE "DREAMGIRLS" STORY EVEN THOUGH THE CREATORS GO TO GREAT PAINS TO SAY THAT THE MUSICAL IS NOT BASED ON THE SUPREMES.
When I first heard about the play I was so thrilled but no one ever called me. They just said it was not about us - but it IS about us. I think they did us quite wrong - they should have acknowledged that the idea was based on the Supremes but they didn't. It's a great play - I'm glad we inspired it but they didn't see fit to acknowledge us so what can you do. I have this beautiful show where I sing standards about my life and I sing "I Am Changing" from DREAMGIRLS.
I GUESS THE ONLY GROUP THAT'S COME CLOSE TO THE SUPREMES IS DESTINY'S CHILD - WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THEM?
I'm sure they're just fine. I'm stuck with the singers I grew up with. This generation I don't quite get into as much as I would my own group. I only know their PR. I've seen them and they look great and have done great I think it's wonderful. My daughter is into them. It's not my generation. I'm 62 and I don't listen to rap or hip hop but I recognize their achievement and think it's absolutely fabulous - these people are doing what we did in the 60s, but we did it first.
EVER MET THEM?
Yes I have and they're very sweet girls. They were very nice.
DO YOU SEE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BEYONCE SEEKING A SOLO CAREER AND DIANA ROSS LEAVING THE SUPREMES?
I think in every group it happens. The Four Tops is one of the few it didn't happen to. If you're in a group situation and the lead is any good it's just the nature.
WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ROSS THESE DAYS?
It's fine. We're not buddies but we like each other and that will remain the same but we're not BUDDIES in the sense that people are talking about. If anything happens where we need to talk we'll pick up the phone and talk. Life goes on and people go in different directions and that's what we've done but there's still love in terms of each other.
IS THERE ANY CHANCE OF YOU, DIANA, CINDY EVER SINGING AGAIN?
That depends on Diana. If she wants to do it, it could happen again. I think the time has passed for that to happen.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUPREMES SONG?
I don't have one it changes so often. "I Hear a Symphony" has always been a favorite and "Reflections" is a beautiful lyrical song. Even today when I sing it I get so into it.
WHO FROM "THE DAY" ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH?
Pretty much everybody. I do a lot of shows with the Tempts and the Tops. Dionne and I are close and Nancy Wilson. Just everybody. Martha Reeves and I work together a lot with all the girl groups.
YOU'RE BEHIND AN EFFORT TO STOP GROUPS FROM TOURING USING THE NAMES OF BANDS THEY DON'T REPRESENT TELL ME MORE.
We call them performing groups but they're not the people who recorded the records. They just form a group and sing our songs and use our names. If you were to go online and pull up "Supremes" there are all sorts of groups that tour w/ our names. They're bogus groups there's an actual bill called the Truth in Music Bill - we are trying to get 10 states to approve the bill and then it will go to the federal level. There are quite a few of us in this movement - John Bowser (Sha Na Na), Joe Terry (Danny and the Juniors), some of the Drifters and some of the Coasters - the originals not the ones working in Vegas now. We want to let the public know this is going on - it's not like these people aren't talented, but it's identity theft.
YOU GRADUATED FROM NYU IN 2001 WITH A LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE. WHY'D YOU GO BACK TO COLLEGE AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS?
I had been around the world and wined and dined with kings but there's something in you that you don't feel as worthy without a formal education. Even though you gain riches you're a little person inside and I wanted to feel good about myself. My mom couldn't read and write and she wanted one of her kids to achieve something. I remember watching her try to write her name. There were many people in our lifetime who were not made to go to school so it was important for me to do this for my mom.
HOW DID YOUR CLASSMATES REACT TO HAVING TO HAVING MARY WILSON IN THE CLASS?
I was the oldest person in the class - they didn't care about me. I was the only person in the class who laughed at the teacher's old jokes.
GOOD FOR YOU, MARY WILSON! THAT IS WAY MORE THAN TEN QUESTIONS BUT YOU ROCK.