From the outset, Martha Reeves’ voice possessed an earthy, direct quality that distinguished her from other female singers, like sultry Mary Wells or demure Diana Ross, at Motown. Her voice bore the righteous fervor of gospel and the flinty edginess of rhythm & blues, which, combined with Motown’s stylized pop-soul approach, made for a compelling package. Together with her backup singers, the Vandellas (Annette Beard, Rosalind Ashford, Gloria Williams), Reeves recorded a classic run of singles in the mid-1960s, most of them composed by the songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland. The Vandellas’ hit streak included what may be the definitive Motown anthem, “Dancing in the Street,” as well as such danceable blockbusters as “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” and “Jimmy Mack.”
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