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The Velvelettes


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The Velvelettes were a 60’s female vocal group founded in 1961 by sisters Carolyn and Millie Gill with cousins Bertha Barbee-McNeal and Norma Barbee (both from Flint, Michigan) on the Western Michigan University campus, where they were students.

The group signed to Motown Records, but weren’t given top priority, as other female vocal groups were attracting audiences and recording hits. While the group awaited their chance at stardom, they recorded backing vocals for more established Motown girl groups, including The Marvelettes, Martha & The Vandellas, and The Supremes.

The Velvelettes got their break in 1964 with “Needle In A Haystack” which peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-1964. The group recorded its follow-up, “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’”, and spent time on various Motown-sponsored tours as an opening act.

With a song on the charts and a place on several concert tours, The Velvelettes began recording an album. Despite burgeoning success, the members of the group began to disagree about the music they were recording. Half wanted to record more mature songs and thought the material was trite, while the other half didn’t want to rock the boat so early in their career.

Motown became apprehensive about the group’s potential, and wary of the expense of the recordings. Not wanting to let good time and money go to waste, the label released two additional singles, “Lonely Lonely Girl Am I” and “A Bird In The Hand,” as the group endured several line-up changes. Both singles flopped, and Motown cancelled the scheduled release of the group’s eponymous debut album.


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  • jeffreeh

    Amazing! <3 Kinda weird how they never got to release an album for Motown but they came up with a 48-track compilation.. But good that it's out there!

    5 Feb 2013 Reply
  • lis-sukie

    If you're a fan of 60s pop, please join this game: Obscure Music Game. The leader eliminates players based on whether they know the music you listen to during a round. If you win two rounds in a row, you get to eliminate players for one round. The more members who listen to different genres, the more interesting the game becomes.

    9 Jul 2009 Reply
  • dixi54

    hey, really great stuff!!!!

    30 Mar 2009 Reply
  • jhem50

    I met this guy..and yeah...he really WAS sayin' somethin. Guys...take listen up. Take lessons ;)

    16 Dec 2008 Reply
  • tasha333333

    Universal Music need you! To celebrate 50 years of motown, you can choose the tracklisting for the new album - MOTOWN 50 - due for release this December. Just get on and pick your Top 5 hits, see the tracklisting as it evolves and be connected to other Motown fans! Whether it's Stevie, Marvin, Gladys or Lionel get on Poll The People and have your say!

    23 Sep 2008 Reply
  • neil222

    This was the first record i ever bought. I practised dancing to it in me bedroom in't North. Still dance the same now. lol

    11 Sep 2008 Reply
  • peterpanxiii

    So why don't you?

    13 Feb 2008 Reply