Martha and the Vandellas were one of the most successful groups in the Motown roster during the 1960s and fully active from 1960 to 1972, performing at various times doo-wop, pop, rock and roll and soul.
The label's second most-successful all-female singing group after The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were known for a churchier, more southern-styled soul than the Supremes, as typified in Motown hits such as "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave", "Jimmy Mack", "I'm Ready For Love", "My Baby Loves Me", "Nowhere to Run", and, their signature song, "Dancing in the Street".
Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1960, the group had initially gone by the name The Del-Phis and originally was a quartet of Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford, Annette Beard and original lead singer Gloria Williamson. Williamson left after a failed single on the Checkmate label, leaving the quartet as a trio. They changed their name again to The Vells signing a deal with Motown's Mel-o-dy label, and singing background for established Motown performers such as Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye before signing a new deal with Motown's Gordy label, changing their name to Martha and the Vandellas in 1962.
In 1964, the Vandellas' lineup changed with Betty Kelley replacing Sterling. In 1967, Kelley was fired and was replaced by Martha's younger sister, Sandra "Lois" Reeves. In 1969, Ashford was also fired and replaced by Sandra Tilley. The lineup of the Reeves sisters and Tilley continued after Martha's return from an institution after suffering a nervous breakdown. The group's final performance at Detroit's Cobo Hall in 1972 ended their twelve-year existence.
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