Friday, July 1, 2022

Legend-Laden Life Celebration for Mary Wilson Ranks Among the Grammy Museum’s Very Best | PHOTOs

Mary Wilson - Getty
Mary Wilson – Getty

*The beautiful thing about special evening events at The Grammy Museum in Downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Live complex is that – 9 times out of 10 – they are recorded for posterity. So, it is absolutely golden that the Friday, March 4th Life celebration of Mary Wilson of The Supremes (in anticipation of her March 6 birthday) was captured.

Those that were there will surely want to relive it…and those that were not will want to devote a couple of hours of their museum visit to watching it at their leisure in the media room. It was just that phenomenal.

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Mary Wilson (Getty)
Mary Wilson (Getty)

Gracefully hosting the evening was Mary’s daughter Turkessa Babich who brought to the stage of the museum’s Clive Davis Theater a cream of the crop parade of icons who also happened to be dear friends and associates of Mary Wilson. So oftentimes these types of events grow wearisome with repetitions of platitudes. Not this one. Not with this level of heartfelt speakers.

Illustrious guests included Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Stevie Wonder, songwriting legends Brian and Eddie Holland, original Miracles singer (and “First Lady of Motown”) Claudette Robinson, longtime publicist Jay Schwartz, singer-songwriter Brenda Russell, Motown gatekeepers Janie Bradford, William “Mickey” Stevenson, Iris Gordy and Karla Bristol Gordy, ALL of the members of Ms. Wilson’s faithful touring band of over 20 years, actresses Beverly Todd, Judy Pace and Eloise Laws. Ms. Babich also read letters from Motown Founder and Chairman of the Board Berry Gordy and Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman (with whom Mary toured as a member f his side band The Rhythm Kings). And a long string of videos was submitted by friends including original Temptations member Otis Williams, original Four Tops member Duke Fakir, singer Rita Coolidge, actress Loretta Devine and many more.

Claudette & Turkessa
Claudette Robinson with Mary Wilson’s Daughter, Turkessa Babich, in Background (Photo: Karla Gordy Bristol)

The final video of the night was the final social media video that Mary posted herself two days before her February 2021 passing, full of hope and excitement for future projects in the works, including the now completed and released 2-CD set Mary Wilson: The Motown Anthology. Stevie Wonder remarked how heartening it was to hear her voice filled with so much optimism so near her last time on Earth. Publicist Schwartz also shared a get-well card he received in the mail from Wilson – on the day she passed – complete with a recipe for a hot toddy.

Mary Wilson - Motown Anthology
Mary Wilson: The Motown Anthology

Such was the warmth, laughter and love shared about Wilson – her beauty, her poise, her generosity, her mischief, her love of men, no-nonsense professionalism and her loyalty to true friends through thick and thin. There were, naturally, a few uncontrollable tears shed, too. However, it was stressed that Mary would never have wanted a sad celebration of her life. She lived hers far too vibrantly for that to be apropos. Audience members included Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence of the group Former Ladies of The Supremes, as well as superstar Freda Payne.

Mary Wilson Gift Bag
Mary Wilson Gift Bag – Grammy Museum (Photo: A. Scott Galloway)

In gift bags handed out upon departure was a paperback of Wilson’s biography “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme,” a cupcake with her picture in the center, and an invitation to support the rights of recording artists to receive fair compensation and royalties for their timeless music being played on the radio in the United States – just one of many worthy causes Mary Wilson fought the good fight for in her glorious lifetime.

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