Mary Wilson, co-founder of pioneering Motown trio the Supremes, died yesterday. She was 76. From the New York Times:
Ms. Wilson, who grew up in the Brewster-Douglass Projects in Detroit, had been a singer in her childhood. Milton Jenkins, who in 1959 was the manager of the Primes, a male singing group, moved to form a female version of the act. Betty McGlown was first to join, then came Ms. Ballard, who invited Ms. Wilson, and Ms. Ross was the fourth. To get Mr. Gordy's attention, they frequented the Hitsville USA recording studio after school — and they were eventually signed by the record executive. The group later changed its name from the Primettes to the Supremes and became a trio in 1962[…]
"They were extraordinarily popular with white audiences, Black audiences and everyone else," said Dolores Barclay, an author and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who collaborated with Ms. Ross on the singer's memoir.
"Appearing in white venues was breaking down racial barriers," she said. "But it's a different type of disruption. It's nonconfrontational. It's having a platform and saying, 'Yes, we're here, we're great and we're a part of American music.'"