This is where it all began. The original Platform architect. The one who began singing professionally at the tender age of 16 years old.
The one who trained Maurice in the foundational principles of platform building and fanbase development alongside great entertainment.
In her own words
I spent time recording with Bobby Robinson, Bunny Jones and a myriad of others. (She goes on to give these details about her involvement with the notorious Nate McCalla and her recording for his label.)
I was Executive VP of Calla and had the unfortunate task of closing Nate’s
office in the Gulf-Western building (and dealing with the IRS) when he disappeared while before he was killed. I started out as Nate’s Admin Assist when he had a small office at 1650 Broadway. He was impressed when he met me at a session that I happened to be attending and I took shorthand notes of an impromtu song the producer wanted to do. I eventually wound up running his office, but he only allowed me time to record/tour to keep me appeased. He really did not want to let me out of the office.
I did only a few local gigs (and one in Canada) as a solo artist. Nate was handling The Tiffanies, and when Eula McNair quit abruptly – leaving Roberta Rivers and Mary Seymour Williams, nee Young, in a lurch, I stepped in (and became the lead singer).
I toured extensively with The Tiffanies (my first European tour was with them – for Carson Holmes) and The Crystals. Also worked in Florida for a short time as lead singer for a group called Deja Vu for a promoter named Tony Belmont. Crystals and Marvelettes were later incarnations. Dee Dee (Kennebrew) was (and still is-as far as I know) the lead singer of the Crystals.
I hear she is singing with her grand- daughters!!! By the way, that group included Roberta Rivers who was the spokesperson for The Tiffanies.
MARY AND THE TIFFANIES
The group was formed in 1963 by three young girls from Harlem, Roberta ( Ferguson ) Rivers, Mary (Young) Seymour-Williams and Karen Buncam. Early on, Karen left the group and was replaced by Eula McNair. They were enjoying minimal local success when their manager booked them at the World’s Fair. The manager stole all their money, and the group became disillusioned. Mary and Roberta decided to go to every record company at 1650 Broadway and were given appointments by all of the companies. They decided to go with Calla Records and recorded three songs but neither was released. Soon after, they decided to go with Charlie Koppleman and Don Rubin (KR Records). Two songs were released in 1967, “He’s Good For Me” in the US and “It’s Got To Be A Great Song” in the UK . When Eula decided to explore other avenues, she was replaced by Mary Wheeler who had recorded “Prove It” on Calla Records. They became a cohesive group that performed extensively in the US and Europe , and you can hear them again today. They were formerly booked by Shaw Artists and Universal Attractions in New York City and venues included supper clubs, night clubs and lounges, military bases, colleges and television shows. Once booked into a venue, they are always called back by popular demand. Over the course of time, the ladies have sung individually and collectively with Musique, The Crystals , The Marvelettes, and DejaVu. Various young women were recruited as fill-ins when needed, the most noteworthy, Connie Questell and Frankie Griffin. The Tiffanies have a vast repertoire that includes everything from Big Band and Oldies to today’s popular hits.
Her Last Years
Mary Wheeler was the founder of EIP Ministries and successful gospel music concert promoter. She both shared and setup the stage and managed many gospel legends such as Bobby Jones, Myron Harmon and the late Reverend Constance Samuels. She owned a tax planning agency, travel agency and worked for the State auditing Nursing Homes as a R.N./D.O.N. She was an ordained minister and Notary Public and was in the startup phase of her own clothing line, record label and music publishing house. She won awards, gained major publicity, had a large pre-internet platform, authored several books including the Child Actors Handbook and a stage play.
Mary died on July 6, 2014 at the age of 67. Her legacy of talent, training, inspiration live on through her son Maurice W. Evans.