Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

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About Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

Known for hits like “Dancing in the Street” and “Heat Wave,” the R&B vocal group Martha Reeves & The Vandellas helped to define the Motown sound of the 1960s. • The singers that would become Martha and the Vandellas got their start in Detroit in the late ’50s under the name The Del-Phis. In 1961, they released the single “I’ll Let You Know” on Check-Mate Records, a subsidiary of the Chicago label Chess. • In 1961, Martha Reeves landed a job as a secretary at Motown. Before long, Reeves and Del-Phis bandmates Annette Sterling and Gloria Williamson were singing background on records by Marvin Gaye. • Reeves claims to have named the group The Vandellas after Van Dyke Street in Detroit and singer-actress Della Reese, her idol. • Martha and the Vandellas scored a No. 6 R&B hit with their second single, 1963’s “Come and Get These Memories.” • The group soon found success working with the songwriting/production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, who crafted their 1963 smash “Heat Wave.” With its famous call-and-response vocals, the single topped the R&B chart and reached No. 4 on pop. “Heat Wave” also earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Recording. • “Dancing in the Street,” their signature song, arrived in 1964. Written by Marvin Gaye, Ivy Joe Hunter, and Mickey Stevenson, the track became something of a civil rights anthem and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100—the highest pop placement of the group’s career. • The band notched three more Top 10 pop hits—“Nowhere to Run,” “I’m Ready for Love,” and “Jimmie Mack”—before splitting up in 1972. • Reeves released a string of solo albums in the ’70s and eventually rebooted The Vandellas for tours in the ’90s. She was on the Detroit City Council from 2005 to 2009.

Detroit, MI, United States
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