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Katherine Schaffner

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Information about Katherine Schaffner

Profile image of Katherine Schaffner

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/16/1944
Birth Location:
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/16/1944
Birth Location:
Ann Arbor
See how Katherine Schaffner is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Original member of the Marvelettes, Katherine Anderson Schaffner was born Katherine Elaine Anderson on January 16, 1944, in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Robert Timothy Calvin “T.C.”Anderson and Florence Smith Anderson. Raised in the Detroit suburb of Inkster’s Carver Homes, Schaffner attended Carver Elementary School, Ford Junior High School, Fellrath Junior High School and Inkster High School. At age seventeen, she was drafted as a back up singer for friends Gladys Horton and Georgia Dobbins for the Inkster High School talent show in 1961. Their group included Georgeanna Tillman and Wyanetta (often spelled “Juanita”) Cowart. The five teenagers called themselves the Casinyets for “Can’t Sing Yets.” They won fourth place, but with the help of their teacher, Shirley Sharpley, who knew Berry Gordy’s driver, Jon O’Den, they were able to land an audition with Motown Records. Motown’s featured stars in 1961 were Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Mary Wells. Dobbins modified a William Garrett song for the group and the result was Please Mr. Postman. Impressed, Gordy signed them on 1961, renaming the group the Marvelettes.

Please Mr. Postman became the number one song in the nation after thirteen weeks. As a Marvelette, Schaffner received Motown training in voice, etiquette and fashion. Soon, the Marvelettes were touring with the Motown Review. They performed at Washington, D.C.’s Howard Theatre, Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, Chicago’s Regal Theatre and other African American and teen venues. The Marvelettes went on to record hit singles such as Playboy and Beachwood 4-5789, which became the most popular phone number in America. Supported by the songwriting talents of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes were an essential female part of Gordy’s “sound of young America,” along with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and The Supremes. During the 1960s, the Marvelettes recorded hit after hit, including Too Many Fish in the Sea in 1964, Don’t Mess with Bill in 1965, The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game in 1967, My Baby Must Be a Magician in 1968 and That’s How Heartaches are Made in 1969.

Schaffner, now retired from show business, is the mother of two adult children, Keisha and Kalaine Schaffner. She is also the grandmother of one grandson, Toure Schaffner.

Schaffner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 5, 2007.

See how Katherine Schaffner is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Katherine Schaffner's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Katherine Schaffner lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Katherine Schaffner describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Katherine Schaffner describes her mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Katherine Schaffner describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Katherine Schaffner describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Katherine Schaffner describes her parents' migration to Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Katherine Schaffner describes her likeness to her parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Katherine Schaffner talks about her father's move to Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Katherine Schaffner describes her father's occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Katherine Schaffner describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Katherine Schaffner recalls the Carver Homes community in Inkster, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Katherine Schaffner remembers her early personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Katherine Schaffner remembers the music of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Katherine Schaffner remembers her early musical activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Katherine Schaffner remembers 'The Ed Sullivan Show'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Katherine Schaffner recalls the exclusion of African Americans from the media
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Katherine Schaffner recalls her early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Katherine Schaffner remembers the amateur singing groups of her youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Katherine Schaffner recalls her early aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Katherine Schaffner describes her neighbors' occupations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Katherine Schaffner remembers Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Katherine Schaffner remembers a lesson from her father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Katherine Schaffner recalls her early activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Katherine Schaffner talks about The Casinyets
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Katherine Schaffner remembers auditioning for Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Katherine Schaffner recalls signing a contract with Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Katherine Schaffner remembers recording 'Please Mr. Postman'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Katherine Schaffner remembers leaving school to tour with The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Katherine Schaffner describes her tours with The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Katherine Schaffner talks about naming The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Katherine Schaffner talks about 'Please Mr. Postman'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Katherine Schaffner remembers the 'Motortown Revue'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Katherine Schaffner talks about The Marvelettes' greatest hits
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Katherine Schaffner remembers the growing popularity of Motown Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Katherine Schaffner recalls her experiences of racial discrimination on tour
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Katherine Schaffner recalls the members who left The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Katherine Schaffner reflects upon her musical career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Katherine Schaffner remembers her return to Inkster, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Katherine Schaffner recalls disbanding The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Katherine Schaffner reflects upon the legacy of Motown Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Katherine Schaffner talks about her approach to performance
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Katherine Schaffner describes the changes at Motown Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Katherine Schaffner remembers performing with The Marvelettes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Katherine Schaffner talks about her children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Katherine Schaffner describes her hesitation to reunite the Marvelettes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Katherine Schaffner recalls being mistaken for Freedom Riders while on tour
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Katherine Schaffner recalls the early days of Motown Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Katherine Schaffner describes the growth of Motown Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Katherine Schaffner describes her lack of recognition from Motown Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Katherine Schaffner describes the play 'Now That I Can Dance'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Katherine Schaffner reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Katherine Schaffner describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Katherine Schaffner talks about the music of the 1960s and today
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Katherine Schaffner reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Katherine Schaffner talks about her family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Katherine Schaffner describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Katherine Schaffner narrates her photographs