Mary brightened when I asked about her new biographical CD, “Clarity,” on which she collaborated with Brian and Eddie Holland, Angelo Bonv, Casandra Jordon and Paul Hill, which is scheduled for release on the H-D-H label in mid-August.
“Well, its taken producer Richard Davis over three years to produce it on his Motor City Works Company,” she said. “One of the reasons it took so long was my reticence to give up my private journals, which I’ve been writing every day since 1960. Eventually, Eddie and Brian Holland persuaded me. It was the only way we could compose the songs. We recorded much of the CD in our spiritual home of Detroit and mixed it in L.A. studios”
I asked Mary for a preview for the songs for our readers.
“My mom’s name; It’s about the hardships of growing up in the Mississippi Delta and breaking free to find a better life, moving to St. Louis and Chicago, then Detroit.”
It’s about the friendship we had in the group. I pray every day for a miracle that someday Diane and I will be together again.”
“Why Can’t We Get Along”
“The beginning of the breakup and Diane hogging the limelight, always stage front while Florence, and then Cindy and myself, were relegated to the back, just harmonizing. Diane would watch the TV monitor above her head so she could see our positions then move in place for the finale to throw her hands and arms up, deliberately covering our faces.”
Other titles include “Life’s Been Good To Me”, “Quest” and “The Need To Know.”
The afternoon wore on until it became time to do the photographs. Lauren and I set up the lights while Mary changed clothes — returning in a black and white casual ensemble. Expecting Mary to be dressed in a Supremes gown, I was appalled to hear Lauren regaling Mary with her recollection of the time she’d gone to a Supremes dinner show and given her childhood scrapbook of Supremes cuttings to the maitre d’ who took it backstage. Consequently, Mary had invited Lauren backstage, and meeting The Supremes was obviously one of Lauren’s most cherished memories — equally obviously one of Mary’s most forgettable!
Whilst this unsettling scene unfolded, I posed Mary on the piano bench looking into that vast mirror reflecting the Supremes painting across the room. My fears about showing awe for the subject were not unfounded. I asked Mary to turn her left shoulder and tilt her chin down slightly. “Close your eyes and on three — just open your eyes, and look straight at the lens,” I said.
Mary snapped, “I’ll do the maneuvers. You just snap away.”
I reminded the star, “Mary, this isn’t crash, bang, wallop, digital — this is film. I know what I’m composing through the lens, and if you want to look your best — well!” But the tense moment was evanescent. Mary apologized, and the shoot went on with no further ructions.
As we were saying goodbyes, Mary said wistfully, “The Beatles had Lennon and McCartney. We had Holland and Dozier. My Lord, you can’t get any better than that.”
A few days later, during a telephone interview with Eddie Holland who co-wrote 10 of The Supremes’ No. 1 hits, he said, “It was a real privilege for us to collaborate with Mary again after so long. After seeing her journals, I think there’s at least another two or three books she could write — if she can ever find the time.”
Mary Wilson can and will do anything she sets her mind to. She remains a diva of the first order, and deservedly so. Spending time in her presence is much the same as being with one of The Beatles or the Queen, The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren, or anyone who has achieved monumental worldwide fame. There’s a certain indefinable quality these people radiate. They are all polite and accommodating — yet remain aloof and self centered. If the conversation veers from themselves for a second, they are masters at maneuvering it right back. There’s never any small talk or inquiries about your own interests, health or life. It’s futile to try humor to lighten the atmosphere, for they are curiously lacking it.
They know you are a professional there to do a job, and that job is to promote their image. They remain focused on that one most important thing in their universe — their career. After all, one must be completely self focused to achieve immense success and obey the rules of a diva, “Love yourself over and above all others, and look fabulous whilst doing so.”
Read more about Mary on her Web site: www.marywilson.com.