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Martha Reeves star on Hollywood Walk


Legendary Motown artist

A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled today honoring Martha Reeves, the lead singer of the Motown group Martha and the Vandellas, known for such songs as ``Dancing in the Street'' and ``Heat Wave.''

Fellow Motown stars Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, the company's founder Berry Gordy and William ``Mickey'' Stevenson, the Motown executive who discovered Reeves and hired her as a secretary before Gordy signed her to a recording contract, joined Reeves in speaking at the ceremony at 7080 Hollywood Blvd., near La Brea Avenue.

Reeves' star will be near those honoring Wonder and the Motown groups The Supremes, The Temptations and The Miracles.

Born July 18, 1941 in Eufaula, Ala., Reeves was a baby when her family moved to Detroit. Growing up, Reeves sang in the choir at Detroit's Metropolitan Church and at Northeastern High School.

In 1957, she joined the group the Del-Phis. By 1960, Reeves was singing in various nightclubs in Detroit.

Following a performance at Detroit's 20 Grand nightclub, Stevenson, then Motown's A&R director, gave Reeves his business card.

According to her website,, Reeves bypassed the audition line at the studios known as Hitsville USA and asked to speak to Stevenson. When she entered the office, Stevenson was shocked by Reeves not following protocol and was busy finishing writing a song for Marvin Gaye.

The phone rang and Stevenson said, “While you're here, answer it, and I'll be right back.''

Reeves was left to answer the phone for the next three hours.

 Answering phones led to a secretarial position and moved on to steady work recording demos.

“I think I recorded more songs on Hitsville than anybody because of that secretary position,'' Reeves said.

By 1961, the Del-Phis had become known as The Vels and were recording background vocals for Motown acts. When Mary Wells failed to make a scheduled recording session, the Vels recorded what was initially a demo recording of “I'll Have to Let Him Go,'' with Reeves as the lead vocalist.

Gordy was so impressed, he signed them to a contract and renamed the group The Vandellas.

The group had its first No. 1 recording on the Billboard R&B charts in 1963, “Heat Wave,'' which the following year brought it its lone Grammy nomination for best rhythm & blues recording.

Later in 1964, the group released its signature song, “Dancing in the Street,'' which was certified as a gold record by the industry trade group the Recording Industry Association of America for selling more than 1 million units.

The group's other memorable songs include “My Baby Loves Me,'' “Come and Get These Memories,'' “Nowhere to Run,'' “Quicksand,'' “Jimmy Mack'' and “Bless You.''

Following a farewell concert for Martha and the Vandellas in 1972, Reeves embarked on a solo career in 1974, including singing on a 1975 episode of “Saturday Night Live.''

She continues to perform concerts and club dates both solo and as “Martha Reeves and the Vandellas,'' with her sisters, Lois and Delphine. The three had sung on the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 which was titled, ``A Tribute to Motown's 40th Anniversary.''

Reeves was a member of the Detroit City Council from 2005-09.