Trevor: Well. The Supremes legacy really was the way they changed the face of pop music, particularly for female artists, in that, yeah, we had solo artists, we had a lot of male doo wop groups that were successful, a lot of male bands were successful, but for female artists to have that kind of consistency, they took a lot of nurturing and a lot of discipline and you know it was like female groups started emerging and were put through a boot camp almost.
In those days The Supremes would have been churning out performance after performance day after day when they were promoting records.Also, Motown churned records out a lot more then than record companies do today. You know it always had ten hits in the charts at the same time. So the pressure was on, it was hard work and hard graft.
I don’ t think anyone today would appreciate how hard it was back in the day, not at all. I mean you work a record now you work it round the world, you send a video out, the video gets played in every country before they even hear you perform. You’ re a star before you' ve ever performed live. That could never have happened back then.Sure you could have a hit record but you had to cut it live to have longevity. I take my hat off to The Supremes because not only did they perform round the country, they went to segregated areas as well where they probably couldn’t stay in certain hotels, you know. They could probably perform in a hotel ballroom and not stay in that hotel, you know and that' s something. You' ve got to take your hat off to them.
The word ' success' in America were always associated to white, not black. You know if somebody was successful in America they were normally white so to have three black girls who were very young become the biggest selling female artists in the world must have given a lot of hope, particularly to aspiring singers, but to every black girl in the projects, in the ghettos, you know because that' s essentially where these girls came from. And every time they went on a TV show like the Ed Sullivan show for example, a huge show watched by millions of Americans, and they didn’t get huge complaints, people went out and bought their records ... must have given huge hope to everybody.
I don't think it's fair to say anybody can really carry the spirit of The Supremes. I think that would be doing The Supremes a bit of an injustice. In the UK, for example, you see the Sugababes. Three girls, don't move too much ... you know what I mean. I'm not saying they sound like The Supremes, but if The Supremes didn't exist would a record company believe that they could put three girls together like that, not moving too much. Every girl group I look at, I think of The Supremes, I really do. I don't think there's anyone vocally whose got that catalogue of songs that I could even put in the same sentence as The Supremes. You're not looking at The Spice Girls, are you?!
FREE TALK: The second in a series of screenings programmed by our Exhibition Road artist in residence Jamie Jenkinson, this screening looks at the relationship between movement and colour in artist film and video.