Mary Wilson, the luscious-lipped founding member of the Supremes, took a moment in the middle of her rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” last week at Feinstein’s to perk up the otherwise solemn-looking audience. Shimmying her ample breasts, she quipped, “You guys are so serious!”
That loosened them up!
During Motown’s golden years, Ms. Wilson swayed behind Diana Ross’ massive ’fro and sang, as she put it, “all the oohs and aahs and baby babys.”
“You can laugh all you want, but I laughed all the way to the bank,” she declares in her new lounge act, “Mary Wilson: Up Close.” Under hushed lights, surrounded by velvety red curtains and well-heeled guests clinking $16 glasses of wine, Ms. Wilson, 63, croons classic ballads, from Joni Mitchell’s pensive “Both Sides Now” to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” (accompanied by Mr. Joel’s own saxophonist, Richie Cannata!).
But don’t expect Ms. Wilson to break out “Baby Love” or “Stop in the Name of Love”; “My World Is Empty Without You” is the Supreme’s only Motown classic on the bill.
“I said to myself, ‘Self, it’s time that you do what you want to do,’” Ms. Wilson told The Observer. “Not that I didn’t want to be a Supreme. I love being a Supreme. If I had to pass or die or whatever, I would want to come back as Mary Wilson of the Supremes, you understand. But you know, after doing something for 48 years, you know, oohs for 48 years, you need to do something else.”
“Mary Wilson: Up Close,” Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, 540 Park Avenue, performances through June 30, www.ticketweb.com.
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