The Supremes is a legendary music group whose style and songs transcend time. Most commonly, people associate Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard with the act. This group helped bridge the gap between Black and White music in a time of segregation.
This made them a symbol during a time of change and progress in America. As Mary Wilson put it: “We became the face of the Black movement just by being Black and prominent—the face of young Black women achieving something.”
They also delivered glamorous 60s fashions and hairstyles that made them stand out from other music acts. Discover more about Diana Ross and The Supremes below.
How Did The Supremes Form?
The original members were the quartet Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Betty McGlown, and Florence Ballard in 1959. The teenagers were originally called The Primettes when they performed locally in Detroit, Michigan. Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson met in a talent show. Milton Jenkins managed a male group called The Primes and asked Florence Ballard to create a girl group for him to work with.
By the time The Supremes signed to Motown, Betty McGlown had left to pursue married life, another member, Betty Martin, had come and gone, leaving Ross, Ballard, and Wilson as the final trio. Ross became friends with Smokey Robinson, who arranged an audition for Motown founder Berry Gordy, who suggested changing their name to The Supremes.
What is Diana Ross and The Supremes’ Music Legacy?
Diana Ross and The Supremes are known as the most commercially successful premier Motown act and one of the most successful girl groups in music history. They actively sang rhythm and blues, pop, soul, doo-wop, and disco from 1959-77, then in 1983 and 2000.
They had 12 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Some of their most famous songs include: Baby Love, Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone, Stop! In The Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go, Come See About Me, You Can’t Hurry Love, Someday We’ll Be Together, You Keep Me Hangin; On, Love Child, Back In My Arms Again and I Hear A Symphony just to name a few.
The Supremes’ Iconic Costumes & Hair
Berry Gordy understood that the music industry is all about image. And the Artist and Repertoire (A&R) at Motown were the best in preparing their acts for the road. They dressed the members in luxurious clothing and fabulous wigs to draw attention to their beauty and singing.
In the beginning, the group members and their family designed their own costumes as they were quite expensive. Throughout the years, the designs would be altered and tailored to save money. And the world could not get enough of the girls in their glamorous costumes singing those great hits that are now known worldwide.
Diana Ross Goes Solo & The Supremes’ Other Members
Diana Ross leaving The Supremes marked a significant moment. How did it happen? The members of the group thought that Berry Gordy singled Diana Ross out to go solo. However, Ross says in her books that overall the other members were mean to her.
She also says that the press singled her out from the other members by only mentioning her in the articles. The press had a hand in pushing her forward into a solo career. Other members also came and went with The Supremes. They include Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Greene. However, Diana Ross and The Supremes, with members Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, are the most widely known.
Now that you have learned about the timeless appeal of The Supremes and their style, you can see their influence on contemporary acts. Their iconic music can also be enjoyed by different generations. En Vogue, Destiny’s Child, and TLC were all inspired by the group.