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Motown diva still supreme

REFLECTIONS: Mary Wilson (Tony Field Photography)

THE VETERAN Motown diva Mary Wilson wowed her fans at The Drum arts centre in Birmingham during an intimate evening.

Wilson spent the first hour in conversation with local interviewer Shirley Parnell before taking to the floor to sing a selection of solid gold classics.

In her 56th year in show business, Wilson, a US cultural ambassador, told of how, along with fellow original Supreme Diana Ross and the late Florence Ballard, the trio from Detroit took the world by storm in the heady days of the 60s.

They first began singing under the name of the Primettes when they were nothing more than children at the age of 13 under the leadership of Motown chief Berry Gordy.

A name change followed and then the breakthrough came in the mid-Sixties with five consecutive number ones which included Stop! In the Name of Love, Baby Love, and You Can’t Hurry Love. They went on to have 33 top 40 hits before Wilson, the last of the original trio, finally left in the late 70s.

She shed tears with the audience when she recalled the death of Ballard, but smiled too at some of the highlights of her life such as meeting Dr Martin Luther King and travelling the world meeting royalty at the height of her fame.

And she brought tears of nostalgia from the audience too when she invited them on stage to sing with her a medley of her greatest songs.

Wilson is currently a spokesperson with the Humpty Dumpty Institute and travels the world raising awareness of the continued scourge of landmines.

A woman in the row in front of me had already been greeted by Wilson when she first came on stage. She called out her name, waved and smiled and said it was great to see her.

The woman said afterwards: “I’ve been a fan of Mary’s for 30 years and we still write to each other. I’ve even visited her at her apartment in New York where she introduced me as her friend, not a fan. She’s a real genuine person.”

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