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Martha Reeves

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Information about Martha Reeves

Profile image of Martha Reeves

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Motown Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Tomatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
July 18 (Her Birthday)
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rio De Janiero During Carnivale
Favorite Quote:
Lord have mercy.

Birthplace

Born:
7/18/1941
Birth Location:
Eufaula, Alabama

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Motown Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Tomatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
July 18 (Her Birthday)
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rio De Janiero During Carnivale
Favorite Quote:
Lord have mercy.

Birthplace

Born:
7/18/1941
Birth Location:
Eufaula
See how Martha Reeves is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Martha Reeves, the earthy alto voice of Martha and the Vandellas, was born July 18, 1941, in Eufaula, Alabama. The eldest of eleven children, Reeves moved with her parents to Detroit, Michigan, before she was a year old. Reeves attended Russell Elementary School where Emily Wagstaff taught her vocals. A cheerleader who loved composition and music, Reeves studied voice with Abraham Silver at Northeastern High School. She was chosen to sing Bach’s Aria and she competed in talent shows. After graduating in 1959, Reeves worked in sales while performing with Rosalind Ashford and Annette Sterling as the Del-Phis and solo as Martha LaVille.

In 1961, William “Mickey” Stevenson, head of the Artists and Repertoire department for Motown Records, noticed Reeves at Detroit’s Twenty Grand Club. Reeves, along with Ashford and Sterling, sang back up for Marvin Gaye’s hits, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” and “Hitch Hike” in 1962. In 1963, Berry Gordy signed the three to a recording contract as Martha and the Vandellas. Named by Reeves for Van Dyke Street and Della Reese, her favorite singer, the group’s first hit was “Come and Get These Memories”. The million selling “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave” led a string of hits, including 1964’s “Dancing in the Streets”, “Nowhere to Run”, “Quicksand”, “My Baby Loves Me”, “I’m Ready for Love” and 1967’s “Jimmy Mack” and “Honey Chile”. Though they toured the United States and Europe to the acclaim of millions, they were the first group released by Motown when the company moved its operation to California in 1971. In 1974, Reeves sang for the film Willie Dynamite. That same year, her solo album for MCA, Martha Reeves, set a record for production costs, but did not match her earlier success.

Performing in 1983’s Motown 25th Anniversary Special and numerous other television shows and concert tours, Reeves is also featured in the film, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Reeves’ 2004 album is titled Home to You.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Martha Reeves interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Martha Reeves's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Martha Reeves recounts her mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Martha Reeves remembers her father's musical talent
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Martha Reeves recalls her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Martha Reeves shares stories from her family's past
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Martha Reeves discusses her parents' courtship and life in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Martha Reeves describes her father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Martha Reeves talks about family life during her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Martha Reeves recalls her early passion to become a singer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Martha Reeves shares memories of her childhood in Detroit
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Martha Reeves remembers experiences in elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Martha Reeves describes her personality as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Martha Reeves recounts her early involvement in music
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Martha Reeves lists her childhood musical idols
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Martha Reeves discusses her various jobs after high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Martha Reeves details her introduction into the entertainment business
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Martha Reeves recalls the first Martha and the Vandellas recordings
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Martha Reeves remembers her first hit single
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Martha Reeves discusses radio stations that helped popularize her music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Martha Reeves comments on backing musicians that recorded with her
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Martha Reeves shares her thoughts on becoming an internationally-known performer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Martha Reeves explains her choice to make more danceable music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Martha Reeves shares how she continues to produce her signature sound
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Martha Reeves laments the demise of Motown
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Martha Reeves recounts her career after her contract with Motown
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Martha Reeves discusses mentoring young artists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Martha Reeves explains how Motown artists were trained
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Martha Reeves recalls Maxine Powell's influence on Motown
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Martha Reeves comments on popular music of today
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Martha Reeves discusses her current relationship to Detroit
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Martha Reeves shares her hopes for the black community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Martha Reeves reflects on her career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Martha Reeves describes her family's reaction to her success
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Martha Reeves shares how she would like to be remembered