Martha and The Vandellas Biography

Marvin Gaye’s Backing Singers + Berry Gordy’s Secretary


Watch this video

‘Dancing In The Street’

Martha and the Vandellas

Martha and the Vandellas (later known as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) were a huge success for the Motown label between 1963 and 1971.

Prior to these years, what was to become The Vandellas had been backup singers for other acts such as Marvin Gaye at the Motown hit factory, where Martha worked as a secretary.

One day, Mary Wells missed a scheduled session that The Vandellas were booked to provide backup singing for. Martha stepped in and impressed Berry Gordy so much he signed them on the spot.

Backed by Motown’s hit writers Holland-Dozier-Holland, they released super hits like ‘Heat Wave’, ‘Nowhere to Run’, ‘Jimmy Mack’, and “Dancing in the Street”.

‘Nowhere To Run’ was actually one of the worlds first music videos, ‘Dancing In The Street’ became one of Motown’s signature songs.

In the aftermath, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas have continued doing sporadic concerts around the world and been inducted to the Grammy and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Rolling Stone ranked the group #96 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Martha Reeves is still performing in 2019 at the age of 77.

Related Pages

Jimmy Mack – Guitar Lesson

Jimmy Mack is a song written by Motown’s main song writing team, Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Commisioned especially for Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, this is a classic Motown hit that often appear on a Motown/Soul repertoire.

As you learn this in the course, we discuss how you can extend the chords to create a more interesting sound. We also play the horn section solo on the guitar.

Preview video lessons: Jimmy Mack

Jimmy Mack – Martha Reeves and The Vandellas

Jimmy Mack, Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy Mack, when are you comin’ back
Jimmy Mack, Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy Mack, when are you comin’ back
My arms are missing you, my lips feel the same way too
I tried so hard to be true, like I promised I’d do
But this guy keeps comin’ around, he’s tryin’ to wear my resistance down

For complete lyrics, go to Jimmy Mack lyrics.

Sign Up Now

A monthly subscription with access to all acoustic and electric step by step lessons, each one designed to bring your guitar playing skills to the next level.

Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

To sign up now, go to Monthly Subscription