Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Martha Reeves (born July 18, 1941), was the lead singer of the American Motown Records group Martha & the Vandellas. She was born at Eufaula, Alabama. Generally considered Motown's most authentic female soul singer, Reeves is best-known for uptempo soul classics such as "Heat Wave," "Dancing in the Street," and "Jimmy Mack," but is arguably best at ballads such as "My Baby Loves Me" (backed by the Four Tops) and "Love Makes Me Do Foolish Thing" (normally a show-stopper in her live performances). She is a Grammy nominee and has been inducted to the Soul, Rhythm n' Blues, Rock n' Hall, and Alabama Music halls of fame. She was also honored by the Black Women in Publishing organization for her journalistic efforts (an early contributor to Soul newspaper) and her 1995 autobiography.
It was while listening to Reeves' first hit single, "Come and Get These Memories" that Motown founder Berry Gordy coined his "Sound of Young America" slogan. Her "Nowhere to Run" was named one of the top ten R&B singles of all time. She backed Marvin Gaye on tour and on his first three hits, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," "Pride and Joy" and "Hitch Hike." She was the first Motown artist to record a Stevie Wonder composition, "Nobody Cares" on her Dance Party album in 1965. Wonder's frequent writing companion Sylvia Moy picked up on Reeves' Southern roots for her 1967 hit, "Honey Chile." A fearless performer respected by her fellow musicians for her versatility, Reeves' stage show during her Motown heydays included songs as diverse as Wilson Pickett's "I Found a Love," to the French art song, "Les Bicyclettes," and from Frank Sinatra's classic "All the Way" to the gospel "Oh Happy Day." Her singing partners have been as diverse as Dusty Springfield, Beverly Sills, James Brown, Ringo Starr, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen.
Reeves left Motown in the early 1970s, and later released albums on MCA (where her star-studded 1974 solo debut was the most expensive album recorded to that date), Arista, and Fantasy. In the early 1990s, she and other Motown veterans recorded updated versions of their hits and new material for London-based MotorCity Records .
The 1990s saw Reeves out of the studio, but making numerous television appearances, and constantly on the road, appearing as a solo artist, with original Vandellas Annette Beard Sterling Helton , and Rosalind Ashford Holmes . She toured the UK in a special Motown review called Dancing in the Street, and the US in a production of Ain't Misbehavin'. Today, she is usually backed by her sisters Lois (who debuted as a Vandella in 1967, on "Honey Chile" and later sang with Al Green's backup group, Quiet Elegance) and Delphine , who has been with the group since the early 1990s.
Reeves is an accomplished pianist, producer and songwriter. Her latest CD is Home to You (True Life Entertainment, 2004), which she produced and wrote all cuts except an updated "Jimmy Mack" and the Billie Holiday classic, "God Bless the Child."
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