Mary Wilson left the world with a musical gift — and her family says there’s more to come.
Days before her death on Feb. 8, Wilson had excitedly spilled the beans in a YouTube message to fans: Her long-missing 1979 solo debut was set to be reissued, complete with several never-before-heard tracks recorded about the same time.
Wilson’s premature announcement caught many in her circle by surprise — not least Bruce Resnikoff, president of Universal Music Enterprises, which oversees Motown Records’ legacy catalog. He’s the one who had been quietly working with Wilson to spearhead the plans, including the album’s first-ever digital release.
But in her enthusiasm, eager to share good news with fans, Wilson couldn't help herself. Her daughter, Turkessa Babich, said the project was very special to Wilson and those who loved her.
“The fans have been demanding that it come out for all these years,” said Babich. “And 40-something years later, we finally have it out there.”
The expanded edition of “Mary Wilson” — a collection of disco, pop-rock and ballads — was reissued April 16, including four songs cut with British producer Gus Dudgeon (Elton John). Until now, three of those sat unreleased, and Universal says they have long been “among the most requested items in the Motown catalog.”
The original album, produced by Motown’s Hal Davis two years after the Supremes’ breakup, was a big step for Wilson in 1979 as she embarked on the solo career that would mark her next four decades. But aside from some minor dance-club success for lead single “Red Hot,” the record made little impact. Amid that summer’s growing disco backlash, the album was shelved by Motown just after release.
Wilson’s unexpected death from a cardiovascular disease was startling for those close to her, if only because she had been so revved up and active. Behind the scenes, a busy round of promotion for the album had been lined up, said her longtime publicist Jay Schwartz. In early March — just ahead of her 77th birthday — she was set to appear on “The Talk” and the “Today” show, along with a full day at SiriusXM and a co-hosting gig on “Entertainment Tonight.”
The album’s expanded edition also features three contemporaneous dance mixes of “Red Hot,” along with a previously unheard mid-2000s track that was close to Wilson’s heart.
Produced by Detroit-born songwriter Richard Davis at the Recording Institute of Detroit in Eastpointe, that sparkling R&B number — “Why Can’t We All Get Along” — had come to resonate more and more for Wilson, its Rodney King-inspired title speaking to the social tensions and civic unrest of the moment.