Three Kids from Detroit
Getting It Together
Long before graduating from high school, things began happening for Mary, Florence, and Diane. In 1959, when Mary and Diane were fourteen years old, Flo asked them to join her in a singing group. Florence was friends with a men's singing group called the Primes. The group's manager, Milton Jenkins, asked her to form a sister group to perform with the Primes. The women's group would be called the Primettes. Mary and Diane were thrilled and agreed to be a part of the group. Together with Betty McGlown, who was dating one of the Primes, the girls became the Primettes.
Flo, Mary, and Diane also had to get permission to be part of the group. Since singing was something that would keep them out of trouble, the girls had little problem convincing their parents. When the girls agreed to get their schoolwork done in addition to rehearsing the music, the girls' parents allowed them all to participate.
None of the four girls could read music, so they had to learn the songs by ear. The Primes worked with them, helping them polish their four-part harmonies and teaching them dance moves to go along with their songs. The young women performed together naturally and loved it from the beginning. They rehearsed every day.
Flo usually sang lead vocals in the early days. Her strong, bluesy voice was similar to other singers of the time. Diane had a much higher, nasal voice that was still untrained. Mary and Betty sang wonderful harmonies. With plenty of practice, they really did sound good together. Before long, the girls were making appearances as the Primettes.