Honoring Mary Wilson’s Musical Legacy

Mary Wilson, a co-founder of the legendary music group The Supremes left a lasting legacy in the music industry. 

Following her death on Tuesday (February 9) at the age of 76, many are taking a look back at her impact on music across generations and genres.  

Her bandmate and fellow Supreme, Diana Ross reacted to the news of Wilson’s passing on social media, writing that “The Supremes will live on in our hearts.” 

Wilson met Florence Ballard, another founding Supreme, in elementary school in Detroit, Michigan. Wilson had moved to Detroit with her family from Greenville, Mississippi. After she and Ballard auditioned for a man named Milton Jenkins, the group started to take shape and in 1961, the original four members signed to the iconic Motown Records. 

During a career spanning 60 years, Wilson helped change R&B, disco, and pop music in the chart-topping group and beyond. Known for her vocal abilities under the iconic Motown Records, Wilson helped the group get 12 number one hits and 20 top 10 songs over a 16 year period, a feat that has yet to be beaten by any other girl group to date. 

After The Supremes disbanded in 1977, Mary Wilson went on to have a solo career under Motown Records before performing on the stage in theatrical performances. 

She also authored three best-selling books, documenting her life during and after being a member of the legendary group. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Wilson a cultural ambassador and she continued touring and entertaining globally in addition to her philanthropic work with the NAACP and numerous other organizations. 

Before her passing, Wilson had started uploading clips of performances to her YouTube channel, documenting her vocal prowess and stage presence over the years. 

On her channel, Wilson also reflected on late fellow Motown artists who she’d met in the 60s as a Supreme. Now, Wilson's legacy in music will be remembered and celebrated for its influence on future generations of musicians.

Photo: Getty Images

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