Villagers eagerly climb on stage with Mary Wilson of The Supremes

She recently turned 74, has 10 grandchildren and just flew into Florida through a wicked thunderstorm.

Don’t matter — Mary Wilson is still supreme. Make that Supreme, as she showed Wednesday during a lively performance in Savannah Center.

Wilson, along with Diana Ross and the late Florence Ballard, was part of the Supremes, the dominant female singing group of the 1960s.

Mary Wilson on stage at Savannah Center.

What the Beatles were to rock bands, the Supremes were to girl groups.
These ladies help put Motown on the map and created their own legacy, maybe best defined in the movie and stage musical, “Dreamgirls.” The group had a dozen No. 1 hits and 20 Top Ten records, according to Billboard Magazine.

“I’m so pleased that you remember our songs from 50 years ago,” said Wilson, wearing an oversized white boa stole, complemented by black sequined gown. “I’m also pleased that I’m still standing.”

Early on, she flashed that soulful Supreme sound on such classics as “Love Child,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Reflections.” Diana Ross was the lead singer and main voice of the Supremes, but Wilson gave those songs the authenticity they deserve.

“That music will never go out of style,” said Villager Michelle Oten, who attended the concert with her husband, Robert. “Long after we’re all gone, people will be playing those songs.”

Villagers Robert and Michelle Oten are fans of the Supremes.

Robert Oten agreed.
“It wasn’t just the sound,” he said. “It was the women – they looked great, moved great and their voices just blended in a great way.”

Mary Wilson was an original Supreme.

Wilson retains that ‘60s Supremes’ glamour. Although her choreography has slowed, she can still sell a song and please an audience.

“Back when we were recording, the British invasion came along,” Wilson said. “We Supremes did our best to sell records.”

It’s estimated the group sold over 50 million records.
That’s why when Wilson invited audience members to come on stage, about 25 to 30 Villagers jumped at the chance.

And there they were, sharing the spotlight with Wilson, making Motown moves to such songs as, “Baby Love,” “Stop in the Name of Love” and  “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
What’s it like to be on stage with a Supreme?

Mary Wilson leads a Supreme singalong.

“It’s so cool,” said Villager Anne Thomas. “Mary Wilson was so nice to us and she encouraged us to sing along and have fun. I tried to keep up – it was fun.”

In addition to the Supremes, Wilson – backed by a four-piece band and two singers – sang some newer songs. Wilson gave a smooth-jazz flavor to Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.” Her voice got a bit hoarse, but after a drink of water, Wilson delivered a powerful cover of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”

Then Wilson rocked hard on Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You.”

Through it all, Wilson kept her cool and elegant demeanor. She was sexy, sassy, and most of all, pleased the people remember the music and the singer.

“I’m proud of our records and I’m happy,” she said. “Thank you for remembering.”

Or as Michelle Oten would say, “How could we forget?”

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