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Norma Fairhurst

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Information about Norma Fairhurst

Profile image of Norma Fairhurst

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Spaghetti
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
Wow.

Birthplace

Born:
10/24/1943
Birth Location:
Verona, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Spaghetti
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
Wow.

Birthplace

Born:
10/24/1943
Birth Location:
Verona
See how Norma Fairhurst is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Singer and performer Norma Fairhurst was born in Verona, Mississippi and raised in Flint, Michigan. Fairhurst and her cousin, Bertha McNeal, first sang in a group with their uncle called the Barbees, where they recorded an album for the Stepp label in 1957. Following high school and the breakup of the Barbees, Fairhurst enrolled as a student at Flint Junior College.

In 1961, while a freshman at Flint Junior College, Fairhurst was asked by her cousin to join a singing group at Western Michigan University with Mildred Arbor, Carolyn Street and Betty Kelley, which they named the Velvelettes. After the quintet won a talent contest at the University, fellow student and nephew of Berry Gordy, Robert Bullock, suggested they audition for Gordy’s Motown Records. The Velvelettes signed to Motown in late 1962 and started recording in January of 1963. They recorded two singles in 1963: "There He Goes," which was written by Fairhurst, and "That's The Reason Why." In 1964, the Velvelettes recorded and released the single "Needle In A Haystack" on Motown’s VIP Records, which peaked at #45 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The group then recorded "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin',” which peaked at #64 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and at #21 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.

In September of 1964, Betty Kelley left the Velvelettes to join Martha and the Vandellas. The remaining four Velvelettes continued to perform and released the singles “Lonely Lonely Girl Am I” and "A Bird in the Hand (Is Worth Two in the Bush)" in 1965, and "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You,” in 1966, which later became a hit in the United Kingdom peaking at #34 on the UK Singles Chart. In the late 1960s, Arbor, Fairhurst and McNeal left the group and were replaced by Sandra Tilley and Annette Rogers-McMillan. Then, in 1969, Carolyn Street married and disbanded the Velvelettes. Fairhurst went on to become general manager of the Radisson Hotel in Flint, Michigan.

In 1984, four of the original Velvelettes, Arbor, Fairhurst, McNeal and Street, reunited. In 1990, the group re-recorded their original hits and new songs for the album One Door Closes for Motorcity Records. Motown Records then released The Very Best of the Velvelettes in 1999, The Velvelettes: The Best Of in 2001, and The Velvelettes: The Motown Anthology in 2004. The Velvelettes are the only Motown group of the classic era still performing with the “original” line-up.

Norma Fairhurst was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 25, 2014.

See how Norma Fairhurst is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norma Fairhurst's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norma Fairhurst lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norma Fairhurst describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norma Fairhurst talks about her mother's upbringing and employment
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norma Fairhurst describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norma Fairhurst talks about her father's U.S. Army service in World War II
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norma Fairhurst describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norma Fairhurst talks about her father's career at the General Motors Corporation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norma Fairhurst remembers her parents' personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Norma Fairhurst describes her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Norma Fairhurst remembers her early singing experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Norma Fairhurst describes the sights and sounds of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norma Fairhurst remembers the music of her youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norma Fairhurst describes her early musical training
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norma Fairhurst remembers her father's alcoholism
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norma Fairhurst recalls her travels to the segregated South
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norma Fairhurst remembers her experiences of bullying
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norma Fairhurst describes her early personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norma Fairhurst remembers singing with the Barbees, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norma Fairhurst remembers singing with the Barbees, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Norma Fairhurst talks about the decline of the automotive industry in Flint, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Norma Fairhurst remembers her aspiration to become a performer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Norma Fairhurst describes the formation of The Velvelettes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norma Fairhurst remembers writing the song 'There He Goes'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norma Fairhurst recalls her coursework at Southwestern High School in Flint, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norma Fairhurst remembers signing a contract with Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norma Fairhurst talks about The Velvelettes' contract with Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norma Fairhurst reflects upon her decision to sign with Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norma Fairhurst talks about the rights to The Velvelettes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norma Fairhurst remembers The Velvelettes' early records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Norma Fairhurst remembers touring with The Temptations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Norma Fairhurst talks about Berry Gordy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Norma Fairhurst recalls the format of The Velvelettes' tours
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norma Fairhurst reflects upon her experiences at Motown Records, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norma Fairhurst remembers Maxine Powell
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norma Fairhurst talks about The Velvelettes' success in England
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norma Fairhurst remembers auditioning for The Supremes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norma Fairhurst recalls her decision to leave Motown Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norma Fairhurst talks about the challenges of working as a performer
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norma Fairhurst remembers the start of her hospitality career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Norma Fairhurst talks about The Velvelettes' reunion, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Norma Fairhurst remembers recording with Nightmare Records
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Norma Fairhurst talks about The Velvelettes' reunion, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norma Fairhurst describes The Velvelettes' rapport
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norma Fairhurst talks about The Velvelettes' recognition from Motown Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norma Fairhurst reflects upon her life and career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norma Fairhurst reflects upon her experiences at Motown Records, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norma Fairhurst talks about her concerns for minority communities
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norma Fairhurst describes her children
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norma Fairhurst talks about her parents' perspective on her career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Norma Fairhurst describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Norma Fairhurst narrates her photographs