Mary Wilson: Still Hustling to Prove Herself
Mary Wilson mentioned to the crowd at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz room last night that her sister was performing down the street. “Well, not exactly down the street, at the Venetian.” The smoky voiced, soon to be 73 year old, Wilson, bursting forth from her blue gown, warned the crowd she would only sing one Supreme’s song. In response to the audience’s collective groan, she quipped, “It’s all about me now.”
The grandmother of eight sang an eclectic mix of tunes she said had meaning in her life. Unlike Ms. Ross, she did it with no gown or wig changes. She’s still out to prove she can sing more than the ooo’s and ah’s she did backing up Diana Ross. I’m not sure how “The Girl From Ipanema” fits into all that, but Wilson’s sex appeal makes every song work from Sting’s “Fields of Gold” to Norah Jones’s Grammy winning “Don’t Know Why,” a song her friend Rita Coolidge said she should check out.
Wilson reminded us (more than once) that The Supremes had 12 number one hits with no Grammy wins (and only a dozen nominations). She also mentioned her best-selling book “Dream Girl: My Life as a Supreme” a few times and her 2003 appointment as Cultural Ambassador by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell undertaking missions on behalf of the U.S. Department of State in Botswana, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bosnia, Mozambique, Oman, Uruguay, and Argentina.
She told Las Vegas Magazine she would be doing (and she did) her Jazz show, which is really American classics like “Body and Soul,” “Here’s to Life,” “Smile,” “Spring Is Here,” and Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather.”
Wilson mentioned it was fun to sing in her hometown. However, in 2015 Doug Elfman devoted his entertainment column in the R-J to Wilson trying to sell her home in Anthem Country Club and moving to L.A. At the time she was tired of traveling so much because, “Going through security at airports these days is horrible.” It doesn’t matter who you are.
Elfman mentioned that Carlos Santana bought a house in Vegas for Nevada’s low taxes. Wilson replied, “Let me tell you, that definitely was one of the pulls here for me, years ago, but I’ve kind of forgotten about it because I’ve been here so long. But he’s right about that.”
Wilson did mention acting classes during her show, so perhaps she did move to La-La Land. Whether she was acting, or truly emotional, she wiped tears from her eyes talking about the other original Supreme, the late Florence Ballard (Flo), before doing Jennifer Hudson’s “I Am Changing” from the movie “Dreamgirls,” which Wilson said is not about the Supremes, “because I didn’t get paid for it.” However, she did go ahead and use their title to title her book.
The internet says Ms. Wilson is worth $8 million, but she works like she’s down to her last dime. After she closed with Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” Wilson hustled into the lobby to sell and sign pictures and books. Here “sister" Diana did no such thing after her show at the Venetian.
The dreamgirl is no diva, she’s a hustler.