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The Marvelettes

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The Marvelettes were an all-girl group who achieved popularity in the early to mid-1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson (nee Schnaffer), Georgeanna Tillman (nee Gordon), Juanita Cowart (later Juanita Cowart Motley) and Georgia Dobbins, who was replaced by Wanda Young (nee Rogers) prior to the group signing their first deal. The group was the first major successful act of Motown Records after The Miracles and were its first significant successful girl group on the label’s early years after the release of the number-one single, “Please Mr. Postman”, one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group and the first by a Motown recording act.

Founded in 1960 while the group’s founding members performed together at their glee club at Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan, they eventually were signed to Motown Records’ Tamla label in 1961. Some of the group’s early hits were written by band members and some of Motown’s rising singer-songwriters such as Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, who played drums on a majority of their early recordings. Despite their early successes, the group was eclipsed in popularity by groups like The Supremes, with whom they shared an intense rivalry and struggled with issues of dismal promotion from Motown, illnesses and mental breakdowns, with Cowart the first to leave in 1963, followed by Georgeanna Tillman two years later and Gladys Horton two years after that.

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