Produced in Alabama in 1941, Martha Reeves grew up in Detroit and signed with Motown Records in the early 1960s. With several tunes written by famous songwriting team Holland Dozier Holland at the ready, Martha and the Vandellas went on to prevalent pop and R&B success. Even though the shadow of Diana Ross and the Supremes loomed large at that time, Martha and the Vandellas scored hit after hit, propelling the group to popularity.
She graduated in 1959 and joined a girl group called the Fascinations, and, a year after, co-founded the Del-Phis with buddies Annette Beard and Rosalind Holmes. The group shortly cut its first single and signed a contract with Motown’s Mel-O-Dy Records, and Reeves also got a secretarial job in the label.
Martha Reeves caught her next rest when her group was decided to sing backup on Marvin Gaye’s 1963 tune “Stubborn Kinda Fellow,” which went on to be a smash hit. The next year, Martha and the Vandellas, as they were now understood, recorded their particular important single, “I Will Have to Let Him Go,” when the vocalist initially slated to record the tune did not show up for the session. “Come and Get These Memories,” a tune written by renowned songwriting and production team Holland Dozier Holland (Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Eddie Holland), made it to No. 5 on the R&B chart and started a successful cooperation between the songwriters and the group.
The single sold over a million copies and earned the group its only Grammy Award nomination (best R&B vocal performance by a duo or group). The ball really rolling now, “Heat Wave” was followed by “Quicksand,” also written by HDH.
The hits surely did not cease there for Martha and the Vandellas. “Dancing in the Street” climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964 (it was reissued five years later and became one of the largest Motown singles ever released). The group also made several TV appearances in this time, on show like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mike Douglas Show and American Bandstand.
Between always dwelling in the shadow of Diana Ross and her Supremes and the weight of churning out an endless stream of hits, Martha Reeves finally succumbed to the pressures encircling her and developed an addiction to prescription drugs. In addition to this, by 1969, HRH had stopped their association with Motown Records, and the Vandellas began to come apart at the seams. They played a farewell concert in Detroit and disbanded in 1972.
Later, Reeves spent years making records, however they never reached the degree of success enjoyed by the Vandellas. In 1994, she released an autobiography, Dancing in The Street, (Confessions of a Motown Diva). In 1995, she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
For a long time, Martha Reeves served as an associate of the City Council of the Town of Detroit. Outside with this job and others she is had in more recent years, she’s continued to perform old Martha and the Vandellas tunes to live crowds.