By: Collin Frazier
This past weekend, the University of Findlay had the honor of hosting Mary Wilson to a concert. For those unaware, Mary Wilson was an original member of The Supremes, former contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and an important piece of the Motown era of music. Last Thursday, Nov.7, students had the opportunity to not only hear Wilson’s story, but to also ask questions. When asked on what was her most memorable moment during the Motown era, Wilson talked about all the different people that she got to meet.
“The most exciting thing was doing a command performance for the Royal Family in England. That was the biggest thing because we were three little black girls who grew up in Detroit, Michigan and we were poor. My mother couldn’t even read or write,” said Wilson “So, for me to end up performing for Prince Charles and the Queen Mother, that was a major in my life. All the stars you read about in history, I met and have been friends with!”
Wilson as a member of the Supremes got to travel the world, which was something she enjoyed.
“That’s one of the main things I like about my job is that I get a chance to travel. When I was very young, I would read fairy tales, and I always dreamt about the most exotic places in the world, never imagining I would get to visit those places, and I actually have [been to them],” said Wilson. “Secretary of State, Colin Powell, made me an ambassador for the United States, and so I traveled to all the African Countries.”
As previously mentioned, Wilson also made an appearance on this season of Dancing with the Stars. While voted off early, she still had an amazing experience.
“It was absolutely great. When we [Wilson, Diana Ross, and Florence Ballard] were the Supremes, we did a lot of dancing on all of the major TV shows. We would always do tap things, [and] we were really choreographed by Charlie Atkins,” said Wilson. “Even though I learned how to do all that stuff [the dance moves] fifty years ago, being on Dancing with the Stars, for me, was easy because I wasn’t afraid to do something that I didn’t [normally do].”
Wilson also was appreciative of the friendships she made during her time on the show.
“All the people on it [the show] were really wonderful,” Wilson commented. “I communicate with everybody because when you do something with a group of people, you become not only just friends, it’s like a family.”
Along with being cemented with great people and Motown History, Wilson has begun giving back to the community of Detroit by helping with housing. Wilson talks more on what inspired her to give back.
“We the Supremes were poor, and we grew up in projects. We have a lot of homelessness in America today. Back then, we were very fortunate that the government supplied homes for people. My mom couldn’t get a great job because of that [being unable to read and write]. So [for] people like my family, this was a great thing that the government provided,” said Wilson “I think today in the government, we need to do something about this homelessness because we [are] just throwing our people away who just cannot afford homes. I got involved with all of this because of my own upbringing and I understand that people sometimes need help. And we [of better social class], who are a little more privileged than other people, we should find ways to help them get them on their feet.”
Thank you once again to Mary Wilson for giving her story, as well as giving the University a great show!