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Concert Reviews:
Mary Wilson reigns Supremes at Orchestra Hall
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- Mary Wilson made it clear on Saturday night, April 9, that Orchestra Hall was perhaps the last place where she ever expected to perform when she was growing up in Detroit's Brewster projects.

"It's so wonderful to be home," the co-founder of Motown's iconic Supremes said after a performance of the group's 1965 hit "My World Is Empty Without You." "Who knew in 1959 when we were at Bishop Elementary I would end up with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra."

The second of Wilson's three concerts with the DSO was certain a "Come and Get These Memories" experience, from the trademark gowns -- one a shimmering silver, the other a sequined blue -- Wilson sported to a sampling of the cream of the Supremes catalog, eight songs in all with Holland-Dozier-Holland's arrangements given a muscular recreation by the full orchestra and Pops conductor Jeff Reed that bolstered the swing provided by Wilson's traveling rhythm section.

With famed Motown arranger Paul Riser looking on, Wilson had the crowd bopping in its seats to favorites such as "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Love Child," "Reflections" and, appropriately, "I Hear a Symphony." For a medley of "Baby Love" and "Stop! In The Name of Love" she brought fans up on stage to sing and dance, though Wilson pointedly asked "Where the black girls at?!" as she peered into the overwhelmingly Caucasian audience.

Wilson held her own on the Supremes classics even though stepping into Diana Ross' distinctive and unique range is no easy feat; Wilson's own voice has more smoke and body to it -- the reason why she actually sounded better on a selection of pop standards such as "Here's To Live," "Body & Soul" and a hushed, aching rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." And while she didn't quite make us forget Jennifer Hudson with her version of "Dreamgirls'" "I Am Changing," Wilson's dedication of the song to late Supremes mate Florence Ballard made for a special moment, particularly in their home town.

Wilson and the DSO ended the night by making Ross' Supremes swan song "Someday We'll Be Together" her own, an emotionally resonant moment that certainly made anyone there hope that day comes again sooner rather than later.

Wilson finishes her stand with the DSO at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 10. at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $19-$105. Call 313-576-5111 or visit dso.org.

Web Site: www.dso.org

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