Wendy Rene

The world says farewell to a blessed soul. Mary Lou Frierson Cross was born March 8, 1947 to Beauregard Frierson Sr. and Katherine Anderson Frierson in Memphis, TN. As the only girl, she grew up with three brothers—James Willis, Johnny (Khafele), and Beauregard Jr. She is survived by her former husband James E. Cross Jr., and their children—Andre (Deanna), Mubaarak—also known as Eric (Flora), Jacques, Ilia-Rashad (Angela), Ivan, and her only daughter Jamique.

Mary leaves behind several grandchildren: Terrika, Kurteous, Khadijah, Khari, Autezia, Michael, Julian, Barak, Torvis, Kushmir, and Anaya. Many around the world remember Mary as the young STAX recording artist, Wendy Rene (the stage name given to her by the late Otis Redding). She eventually sacrificed her fame and musical career for her new family when she was supposed to have taken the same flight that killed Redding and members of the Bar-Kays in 1967.


Shortly thereafter, Wendy Rene retired from the music business and, as Mary Cross, devoted herself to her family and church, Bountiful Blessing Church of God in Christ. For the next few decades, her musical talents and spiritual prominence were utilized in church where she grew as Evangelist Mary Cross. Decades later in an ironic twist of fate, the music industry would rediscover Mary and her songs. During the mid ’90s, her songs were famously sampled by hip-hop groups like the Wu-Tang Clan, and more than a decade later, her music was used by Alicia Keys on her platinum-selling 2007 album. Today, her songs are still frequently used in popular music, movies, and television commercials. 

While many around the world knew Mary as the soulful vocalist from the 60’s, those in the Memphis area grew to know her as “Mommee,” the evangelical matriarch whose motherly influence affected hundreds. She operated a childcare facility where parents withstood a long waiting list to have their children nurtured under Mary’s care. All the children who grew under her tutelage later excelled in their educational endeavors, which was attributed to Mommee’s unparalleled nurturing. The former recording artist had become widely respected as a ‘mother’ unlike any other.

Wendy Rene (Mary Cross) performs at the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans, 2010

Her spiritual and mental acumen carried over to her own children as well. Her sons Andre is a Bishop and business owner, Mubaarak (Eric) serves as a respiratory therapist and is also known as a prominent vocalist, Jacques and Ivan are owners and operators of Cross Lawn Care & Site Cleaning, Ilia Rashad is an acclaimed author and public educator, and Jamique is a successful marketing professional.

We give God all the glory and praise for having such a blessed soul on this earth in Mary L. Cross. The Creator spared her from that fateful plane crash in 1967 and obviously had a great purpose for her life as a wife, mother, sister, and spiritual matriarch. Her legacy will forever continue through her family, her angelic voice, and the countless lives that she has touched. She will truly rest in God’s heavenly peace.

STAX Museum Honors & Remembers Wendy Rene

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February 12, 2018 @07:18 pm
The spiritual and soulful places her voice could carry you are beyond description. It was her presence, her singing from her heart that created an experience that cannot be duplicated.

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