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Reeves, Martha (1941–)

Reeves, Martha (1941–)

African-American Motown singer. Born July 18, 1941, in Eufala, AL; m. "Wiley," 1967 (div.); m. Willie Dee (div.); sister of Lois Reeves (singer).

Migrated with family to Detroit (1942); joined Rosalind Ashford, Annette Beard, and Gloria Williams in girl-group, the Del-Phis (1960); sang backup at Motown; signed with Motown, along with 2 of the Del-Phis (Beard and Ashford), and became lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas (1962); joined by Betty Kelly (1964); had 1st Top-10 hit with "Heat Wave" (1963); churned out other popular hits, such as "Dancing in the Street" and "Nowhere to Run"; toured successfully in England (1965–66); had last Top-10 hit for Motown, "Honey Chile" (1967); because of strained relationship with Betty Kelly (1968), replaced her with sister Lois Reeves; acquired a reputation for being difficult and relationship with Motown began to deteriorate (1968); released last album with Vandellas (1972); went solo, touring and producing several fruitless albums with various labels (mid-1970s); recorded disco album Gotta Keep Moving (1980). Awarded Dinah Washington Award from Detroit's Ballentine Belles; won Dionne Warwick's Soul Award; won Heroes and Legends Award; received Pioneer Award with the Vandellas (1993).

See also autobiography (with Mark Bego) Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva (Hyperion, 1994); and Women in World History.

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