It's hard to believe it that it was nearly 45 years ago that Martha Reeves first hit the charts with the bluesy, soulful "Come and Get These Memories." It is especially hard to believe that four decades have passed when "motown's ultimate soul diva" hits the stage. With the unmistakable voice that helped devine "the sound of young America," dancing and strutting with the energy of a 25 year old, keeping the beat with her trusty tambourine and keeping audiences on their feet as they dance down Memory Lane, Reeves is a live wire. Whether performing solo or with the Vandellas (her sisters, Lois and Delphine), Martha Reeves continues to heat up clubs, the concert stage and music festivals, thrilling audiences across the globe, and always leaving them dancing.
Her hits are the thing of legend: the Grammy - award nominated "Heat Wave", the gospel-tinged "Nowhere to Run", the classic soul favorite "My Baby Loves Me", and her signature, "Dancing In The Street". While best known for up-tempo, hard driving tunes, Reeves' shows are often highlighted by tender renditions of songs like Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love", Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" (included in her new CD "Home To You"), Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad" and perennial showstopper, "Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things".
With her group, the Vandellas, Martha Reeves established an enviable legacy. They backed Marvin Gaye on his first three hits ("Stubborn Kinda Fellow", "Pride and Joy" and "Hitch Hike") and gave Holland-Dozier-Holland their first big hit with "Come and Get These Memories". In fact, it was listening to Martha singing "Memories" that Berry Gordy came up with Motown tag line, "the sounds of young America". While the roster of Vandellas changed frequently, Reeves' soaring soprano was the constant.
Martha's story is a familiar one to legions of fans.
Soon after graduating from high school, Martha performed in clubs as "Martha Lavaille". One night, Motown A&R director Mickey Stevenson heard her and invited her to audition for the then fledgling label. The highly motivated Reeves arrived the next morning. Upon learning that auditions had to be scheduled, she made herself valuable by answering phones and taking messages. When people say she started Motown as a secretary, Reeves corrects them, laughing, "I was never a secretary. I was a singer who could type".
Reeves soon became an invaluable administrator, interacting with musicians and performers, scheduling sessions and making sure that business was taken care of. And she waited her turn to sing. One day, when Mary Wells missed a session, Martha stepped up to the mike and got noticed and a contract. She left the A/R department to become one of Motown's most enduring and beloved stars.
As classics never fade, new and diverse audiences are constantly being introduced to the Martha Reeves songbook.
She has counted talents as diverse as James Brown and Beverly Sills among her duet partners. Robin Williams spun "Nowhere to Run" in Good Morning, Vietnam. Her version of the Van Morrison rocker, "Wild Night" was featured on the Thelma and Louise movie soundtrack. The boys in The Boys In The Band and Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2 partied to "Heat Wave". Everyone from Mick Jagger and David Bowie, the Mamas and the Papas, Laura Nyro and the Grateful Dead have gone "Dancing In The Street". New British rockers The Doves borrowed heavily from Martha's "Heat Wave" for their hit "Black and White Town". A couple of years ago, Will Smith and the producers of the movie Hitch mined Martha's vault of unreleased recordings to find her sublime "It's Easy (To Fall In Love With A Guy Like You)".
Moving beyond the confines of the concert stage, Reeves starred in a US tour of the Tony winning "Ain't Misbehavin", and has performed in road shows of "The Jackie Wilson Story" and "Good Black Don't Crack". She co-starred for three seasons in the UK stage review "Dancing In The Street", alongside Motown peers like the late Edwin Starr, Mary Wilson and Freda Payne. Following Starr's death in 2003, Reeves held the spotlight alone. That same year, she made her opera debut singing with the Motor City Lyric Opera.
Reeves is the recipient of the Dinah Washington Award, a Rhythm n' Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, a Black Woman Publishing Legends Award and has been inducted into the Alabama, Soul, Rock and Roll and Vocal Group halls of fame.
Today's Martha Reeves is fully exposed in her self produced and critically praised True Life Entertainment CD "Home To You". Named by The Asbury Park Press as one of the best blues/root music albums of 2004, Reeves gives both new and older fans the kind of no-frills, straightforward soul singing rarely heard on contemporary radio. From the blues funk of "Watch Your Back" to the jazzy "God Bless The Child", to "Running For Your Love" recalling old school Motown, this Motown classic proves that she is still a powerhouse. The disk also is the first to feature Martha with current Vandellas Delphine Reeves and Sandra Jackson (ada Lois Reeves, who was also a Motown era Vandella from 1967 to 1972).
In November 2005, Ms. Reeves was elected to the Detroit City Council. While she works for the citizens of that city, she continues to be one of it's top ambassadors, performing all over the world - in Asia, the UK, Italy, Slovenia, Canada and throughout the US.
Martha Reeves has always been and always will be committed to ensuring that you "can't forget the Motor City".