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From Primettes to Supremes

First Releases

At last, the hardworking quartet would have a chance to have their music released! They had been disappointed when the Lupine songs hadn't been sold to the public, but their patience and hard work had paid off. The Supremes went into the studio to record their first single, “I Want a Guy.” Diane sang the lead vocal, and this began to set the pattern for future recordings. Many people still preferred Flo's strong voice, but Berry Gordy knew that Diane's voice was unique and would sell records.

Diane's voice had matured over the years and was less nasal than before. It was still a very different singing voice from the voices of the other female artists recording at Motown at the time, though. Gordy hoped that Diane's sound would help the Supremes stand out from the other artists. He was right, but it took a long time for radio listeners to catch on.

There were still some opportunities for Flo to sing lead. On the Supremes' third single, “Buttered Popcorn,” Flo sang the sassy lead vocal, but Gordy's decision to feature Diane more than the others was already in place. Still, the release of their songs meant that audiences were more familiar with the group when they performed, and the girls remained excited regardless of who was singing lead.

Did You Know?

The Supremes' first public performance after signing with Motown was opening for Gladys Knight and the Pips. The girls were nervous and frightened of performing with a strange band. The results were disappointing, and the girls left the stage in tears.

The Supremes recorded four songs for the Tamla label. Gordy then had a change of heart and transferred the group to the more prestigious Motown label. The Supremes began a busy schedule of performances, often opening for better-known artists. The Supremes gained more confidence and took their new success in style. Encouraged by other Motown artists, such as Gladys Knight, the girls felt more comfortable playing to larger audiences and got used to new routines.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesThe SupremesFrom Primettes to Supremes - A Terrible Event, Trying Again, First Releases, And Then There Were Three, The Motortown Revue