Turkessa is continuing her mother Mary Wilson’s legacy.
The late singer and founding member of The Supremes’ daughter is still heartbroken after suddenly losing her mother to heart failure on Feb. 8 at the age of 76. But she’s honored to share Mary’s final two solo albums with her devoted fans.
“She was ecstatic, she was ramping and raving and spilling the beans a couple days before she passed,” Turkessa told ET’s Kevin Frazier, ahead of the release of the first LP, Mary Wilson Expanded Edition, out Friday. Some of the unreleased recordings have even been sitting on the shelf for 40 years.
Mary’s self-titled album was released in 1979, but the “Disco Sucks” movement impacted its success. The newly compiled version features the original songs, plus eight bonus tracks, four of them unreleased, and available on digital platforms for the first time.
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Best known for her work with the iconic Motown singing group — alongside Diana Ross and the late Florence Ballard — the trio became one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s, and created over a dozen No. 1 singles.
It had been years since Mary released music, which Turkessa credits to “the times” and the evolution of music. “She couldn’t get anything out there and it just sat on the shelf.”
Mary’s first posthumous single “Why Can’t We All Get Along,” released last month, was originally written about a Supremes reunion that never happened. The Supremes broke up in 1977, and in her 1986 biography Mary claimed that there was bitterness and accused Diana of diva behavior.
“The song is based off her diaries and Richard Davis took her diaries, read through them all, and wrote the song especially for her,” Turkessa revealed. “She suffered a lot, but she overcame it. She didn’t let it hold her back and this is the work of her diaries.”
“[My mom and Diana] spoke, they communicated [before her death],” Turkessa said. “Whenever they spoke it was kind of like if you’re calling your cousin or your sister and it’s been a long time or that type of thing. Just saying I love you.”
Turkessa, meanwhile, feels as if the track is also fitting for what the nation is going through right now.
“It reminds me of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ and it relates to back then, the ’70s, with the group,” explained Turkessa, before adding, “It’s the anthem of today…The unrest that we’re experiencing right now is just really sad and my mom was so anxious to get this album out there so that people could actually listen to the lyrics and say, ‘Yeah, why can’t we just all get along.'”
Turkessa also shared that there’s unreleased Supremes music as well, but one would have to ask Diana about ever dropping any of the content. ET reached out to Diana’s rep who told ET that she was not available for interviews.
“There’s a lot of music that people haven’t heard,” she shared. “A lot of tracks are sitting on the shelf. Who knows what’s going to come out… I can’t say what’s going to be on the next album but I know there’s lots of music out there that she has done and that The Supremes have done, and hopefully, if we get enough push, we’ll get them all out there.”
In the meantime, Turkessa expressed that her mother’s new albums will showcase Mary’s incredible talent. “You hear her vocals on this. She doesn’t have Diane and Flo back there singing. It’s her, it’s her raw.”
As for growing up as the daughter of a founding member of The Supremes, Turkessa replied, “It was the only life that I knew.”
“At home she was just mom. But out there in the world, we’d get fans interrupting our meals, ‘Can I get an autograph?’ You know,” she recalled. “And we’re like, ‘Mom, really, we’re trying to have a meal here.’ She insisted on signing every single autograph, didn’t matter where or when. She would do it.”
“The Supreme fans, the Mary Wilson fans, they’re loyal,” she added.
For more on Mary’s life and legacy, see below.
Mary Wilson Dead at 76: Remembering the Legendary Motown Supreme
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