Mary Wilson, founding member and linchpin of the Supremes, dies at 76
Singer Mary Wilson, who as a founding member of the Supremes was part of one of the most influential and successful acts in music history, died Monday night at age 76. Jay Schwartz, Wilson’s publicist, said in a statement that the singer died suddenly in her home in Henderson, Nev. A cause of death was not immediately given.
Known as the “sweethearts of Motown,” the Supremes blazed a trail for Black and female artists in the 1960s rivaled by few in American music. A triumphant string of 12 No. 1 hits transformed three Black teens from Detroit — Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard — into cultural icons recognized for their glamour, elegance and ambition.
Born March 6, 1944, in Greenville, Miss., Wilson was the eldest of three children to parents Sam and Johnnie Mae Wilson. Her parents separated shortly after her brother and sister were born in Chicago. Wilson, then 3, went to live with her aunt and uncle in southwest Detroit, believing they were her parents, she told the Wall Street Journal last year. It was here where Wilson was first exposed to music, with her uncle playing R&B and jazz records from the likes of LaVern Baker and Joe Williams in the basement of the one-story home.
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