b. Martha Rose Reeves (a.k.a. Martha LaVaille), 18th July 1941, Eufaula, Alabama, U.S.A.
The group comprised (at various times) of
1957 to 1961 - The Del-Phis - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943), Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943) and Gloria Williams (b. 1942, d. 2000)
1961 to 1962 - The Vels - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943), Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943) and Gloria Williams (b. 1942, d. 2000)
1962 - 1964 - Martha and the Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943)
1964 - 1967 - Martha and the Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Betty Kelly (b. 16th September 1944)
1967 - 1969 - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Lois Reeves (a.k.a. Sandra Delores Reeves b. 12th April 1948)
1969 - 1972 - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Sandra Tilley (b. 6th May 1946, d. 9th September 1981) and Lois Reeves (a.k.a. Sandra Delores Reeves b. 12th April 1948)
Martha Reeves hails from Eufaula, Alabama, and was brought up by her grandfather.
Martha attended Detroit's North Eastern High School, and was vocally coached by Abraham Silver.
In 1957, she teamed up with Gloria Williams and Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard (all in their mid teens) to form The Del-Phis.
Whilst performing away for the Del-Phis, she formed further ensemble's, namely, the Sabre-Ettes and the Fascinations before returning back to the Del-Phis who were now recording backup for Detroit musician Mike Hanks.
The Del-Phis signed to the Chess subsidiary, Checkmate Records, releasing 'I'll Let You Know' (Check-Mate 1005), which saw the light of day in 1961.
The group then underwent a name change, calling themselves The Vels, and recorded 'There He Is (At My Door)' whilst Saundra Mallett (a future member of Motown group The Elgins), sung on 'Camel Walk', the latter released on the Tamla label.
Gloria Williams then left the group and the group stopped recording whilst Martha worked at odd jobsand sang in Detroit nightclubs under the pseudonym Martha LaVaille.
At Motown, Martha worked as a secretary to William Stevenson in Motown's A & R department, and supervised Little Stevie Wonder during office hours, singing occasional backing vocals on recording sessions.
In 1962, Martha and her former Vels group members Ashford and Beard were recruited to perform background work for Marvin Gaye on his second album, 'That Stubborn Kinda Fellow'.
Impressed by Martha's singing strength's, Motown founder Berry Gordy signed the Vels to a Motown subsidiary, Gordy, as a professional recording act, on the 21st September 1962.
Martha then changed the group's name to the Vandellas.
The 'Van' part came from a street that neighboured Martha's own (Van Dyke Street in Detroit) and the 'Della' part was a tribute to Della Reese, Martha's favourite Detroit based singer.
In 1962 the Vandellas had a hit with their second release, the first composition and production from Motown's in-house songwriting team, Holland-Dozier-Holland.
'Come and Get These Memories' became the Vandellas' first Top 40 recording, reaching number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at number six on the R & B chart.
From 1963 onwards, the Vandella's became one of Motown's most successful recording groups.
Their further hits, '(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave', 'Dancing In The Street' (number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 21 on the U.K. pop singles chart in 1964) and 'Nowhere To Run' were all destined to be, not only Soul, but Rock and Roll classics.
heatwave - 1963 / watchout! - 1966 / ridin' high - 1968 / live! - 1968
Between 1964 and 1967, further releases, 'Wild One' (U.S. number 34), 'Nowhere to Run' (U.S. number 8), 'You've Been in Love Too Long' (U.S. number 36), 'My Baby Loves Me' (U.S. number 22), 'I'm Ready for Love' (U.S. number 9) and 'Jimmy Mack' (U.S. number 10)
Martha was eventually, given individual credit in front of the group from 1967 onwards, but their career was interrupted in 1969, when a drug problem caused Martha to suffer a nervous breakdown which led to her to be hospitalised.
As a result, the Vandellas temporarily disbanded.
Fully recovered, Martha emerged in 1970 with a new line-up of Vandellas.
natural resources - 1970 / black magic - 1972
Martha took Motown's decision to relocate from Detroit to Hollywood very badly, and fought a legal battle to be released from her contract.
Two successive Top 40 R&B singles followed, namely, 'In and Out of My Life' and a Marvin Gaye cover song , 'Tear It On Down'.
The group disbanded following a farewell concert, held at Detroit's Cobo Hall on the 21st December 1972.
The eventual settlement entailed the loss of her use of the Vandellas' name, but left her free to sign a solo contract with MCA in 1973.
Her debut album was the result of lengthy recording sessions with producer Richard Perry.
Moving to Arista Records in 1977, Martha then became involved with the emerging Disco scene.
Her subsequent recording contracts proved unproductive, and since the early 80's she has found more consistent work on package tours featuring former Motown artists.
During the late 80's she toured with a 'fake' Vandellas before being reunited with the original group (Annette Sterling and Rosalind Holmes) on Ian Levine's Motor City label.
They released 'Step Into My Shoes' in 1989, whilst ex-Vandella Lois Reeves also recorded for Levine's label.
Martha later became a born again Christian.
She currently presides over the eighth seat of Detroit's city council, which she won during an election year in 2005.
She often spends time as both a live performer and as a city councilwoman.
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
Two of their singles, '(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave' and 'Dancing in the Street' were included in the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the group at number 96 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
The following texts are by Scott Taylor His personal take on the groups career. (Thank you very much for your input, Scott)
'Calling out around the world are you ready for a brand new beat?'
Martha Reeves serenades her audience with much pride and assurance, she is the queen of Motown soul.
Born in Alabama during World War II, the soulful Reeves and her (very musical) family made way for Detroit, Michigan, in the late forties in search of a brighter future.
Martha's humble beginning is the American dream.
Her Career at Motown Records began with secretarial duties.
When the late Mary Wells couldn't make a recording session, someone suggested Martha.
She then called two of her friends to help her out and history was made.
Martha and the Vandellas were officially born.
She was a young girl with southern roots working odd jobs to help out at home.
She had to grow up fast.
This is the grit that created stars like James Brown, Tina Turner and Etta James, unafraid of hard work and a challenge.
This grit can be heard on most of Reeves and the Vandellas'most famous hits.
Martha and the Vandellas got their first taste of success with the Holland-Dozier-Holland composition, 'Come and Get These Memories'.
However things really got heated up for the trio when 'Heatwave' was released.
'Heatwave' is considered the true beginning of the Motown sound and giving the writing team, H-D-H their first top ten hit.
After 'Heat Wave', everything changed at Motown, including Martha Reeves.
Now permanently released from her secretarial duties, the young star was performing almost nightly in cities all over the U.S.A, charming inner city crowds in venues such as the Apollo in Harlem, and The Howard theatre in Washington, DC.
When Martha and the Vandellas hit the stage, the crowds were already on their feet dancing wildly to the infectious beat of tunes like "Quicksand", "Livewire" and, of course, "Heatwave".
Martha and the Vandellas hit pay dirt with the hit "Dancing in the Street" That song had people literally jumping out of cars and actually dancing in the street when it hit the airwaves.
It became the sound of urban America, summer maddess or as some will say, the Motown anthem.
The recording went gold depite the controversy. Many Disc Jockey's refused to play the record in beliefs that the song was a call to riot as H. Rap Brown would use the songs tittle in many of his militant speeches.
Many other urban sounding hits quickly followed. Hits like "Wild one" and the hard driving "Nowwhere To Run", a runaway hit that sounds like it were recorded in a Detroit motor factory.
It's message is almost political since a lot of black people in 1965 felt like they had nowhere to run or hide.
Subsequently, some assumed Martha and the Vandellas were radicals. Martha Reeves was a soul queen before Aretha's "Respect" and before Gladys Knight recorded"Grapevine".
She'd sing from her gut, street style. She'd come out on stage glamorized in her Motown uniform: wig/gown/and make-up. However, not too long into her show one could see her sweat the same way her audience did. As the latter part of the 60's approached, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, once the no.l female group in the world, discovered their only competition was their label mates, the Supremes.
Although many critics felt Martha Reeves went much deeper artistically than her counterpart Diana Ross, the label chose to better promote the Supremes. Perhaps Motown felt Martha and the Vandellas were too "black" for mainstream America.
This lack of attention proved devastating for the band and lead Martha Reeves into a whirlwind of confusion. The once savvy, sassy Detroit youngster with southern flair soon found herself suffering from low self-esteem, drug abuse and a series of
Although the group was now receiving lukewarm record sells in the states, the U.K. and abroad still celebrated the magic of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
With the motivational help of people like Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations, Martha rose from her depression, reformed the Vandellas this time with a sexier line up that included her sister Lois Reeves.
Together they toured the U.K. because their release "Forget Me Not" was in the top ten over there.
Although the hit records have stopped, the artist fights back by giving her audience an electrifying show proving that a "true" recording artist can still prevail without a new hit record.
Martha Reeves still entertains audiences and works nearly 42 weeks out of the year. She is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and is a player in the critically acclaimed film "Standing in the Shadows of Motown". She is still a proud, proud soul sister and can make anybody dance.
as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Heatwave (Gordy Records 1963)
Come And Get These Memories (Gordy Records 1963)
Dance Party (Gordy Records 1965)
Watchout! (Gordy Records 1966)
Ridin' High (Gordy Records 1968)
Live! (Gordy Records 1968)
Sugar N'Spice (Gordy Records 1969)
Natural Resources (Gordy Records 1970)
Black Magic (Gordy Records 1972)
as Martha Reeves
Martha Reeves (MCA 1974)
The Rest Of My Life (Arista 1977)
We Meet Again (Milestone 1978)
Gotta Keep Moving (Fantasy 1980)