It’s hard to believe it that it was more than 40 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 define “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 Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” (included in her award-winning CD “Home to You”) 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 sound 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 just started answering phones and taking messages while waiting for the bus back home. When people say she started at Motown as a secretary, Reeves corrects them, laughing, “I was never a secretary. I was a singer who could type.”
Reeves soon become 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 mic and got notice 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.” In 2005, 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),” and in 2006, “Dancing In The Street” was listed among the U.S. Library of Congress’ register of historic recordings.
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,” “Good Black Don’t Crack,” and “Porgy & Bess.” 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 in Publishing Legends Award, and has been inducted in 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 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 (aka, Lois Reeves, a Motown-era Vandella from 1967 to 1972).
In the summer of 2005, Martha was featured in a top-rated PBS special and wrote liner notes for the accompanying box set of Motown recordings. That same year, she added to her long and diverse list of accomplishments with her election to the Detroit City Council. In March 2006, Motown released a two-disc collection, “Martha Reeves and the Vandellas Gold,” featuring all of their top hits, and in September, “Dancing In The Street” became the theme song for a new Macy’s Department Store campaign.
With recent SRO performances in the US, the UK, Canada, Slovenia and Italy, Martha Reeves has always been and always will be committed to ensuring that you “can’t forget the Motor City.”
Pyramid Entertainment Group specializes in live show bookings for many major R&B and Hip Hop artists. We are a music talent booking agency that represents and handles the live bookings for Kool & the Gang, Ashanti, Sister Sledge, Jody Watley/Shalamar, Color Me Badd, and many others. Many of the live performances we book are for casinos, major events, concerts, and corporate functions. Event planners, business owners, and those in the entertainment industry rely on Pyramid Entertainment for their live music booking needs day in and day out. A short list of our artists can be seen below for quick reference purposes. If you have any questions, simply contact us today.