b. Martha Rose Reeves (a.k.a. Martha LaVaille), 18th July 1941, Eufaula, Alabama, U.S.A.
The group comprised (at various times) of
1957 to 1961 - The Del-Phis - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943), Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943) and Gloria Williams (b. 1942, d. 2000)
1961 to 1962 - The Vels - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943), Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943) and Gloria Williams (b. 1942, d. 2000)
1962 - 1964 - Martha and the Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Annette Beard Sterling Helton (b. 4th July 1943)
1964 - 1967 - Martha and the Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Betty Kelly (b. 16th September 1944)
1967 - 1969 - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Rosalind 'Roz' Ashford-Holmes (b. 2nd September 1943) and Lois Reeves (a.k.a. Sandra Delores Reeves b. 12th April 1948)
1969 - 1972 - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Martha Reeves (b. 18th July 1941), Sandra Tilley (b. 6th May 1946, d. 9th September 1981) and Lois Reeves (a.k.a. Sandra Delores Reeves b. 12th April 1948)
Martha Reeves hails from Eufaula, Alabama, and was brought up by her grandfather.
Martha attended Detroit's North Eastern High School, and was vocally coached by Abraham Silver, who also coached the Supremes members Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson and the Miracles member Bobby Rogers.
In 1957, she teamed up with Gloria Williams and Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard (all in their mid teens) to form The Del-Phis.
Whilst performing away for the Del-Phis, she formed further ensemble's, namely, the Sabre-Ettes and the Fascinations before returning back to the Del-Phis who were now recording backup for Detroit musician Mike Hanks.
The Del-Phis signed to the Chess subsidiary, Checkmate Records, releasing 'I'll Let You Know' (Check-Mate 1005), which saw the light of day in 1961.
The group then underwent a name change, calling themselves The Vels, and recorded 'There He Is (At My Door)' whilst Saundra Mallett (a future member of Motown group The Elgins), sung on 'Camel Walk', the latter released on the Tamla label.
Gloria Williams then left the group and the group stopped recording whilst Martha worked at odd jobsand sang in Detroit nightclubs under the pseudonym Martha LaVaille.
At Motown, Martha worked as a secretary to William Stevenson in Motown's A & R department, and supervised Little Stevie Wonder during office hours, singing occasional backing vocals on recording sessions.
In 1962, Martha and her former Vels group members Ashford and Beard were recruited to perform background work for Marvin Gaye on his second album, 'That Stubborn Kinda Fellow'.
Impressed by Martha's singing strength's, Motown founder Berry Gordy signed the Vels to a Motown subsidiary, Gordy, as a professional recording act, on the 21st September 1962.
Martha then changed the group's name to the Vandellas.
The 'Van' part came from a street that neighboured Martha's own (Van Dyke Street in Detroit) and the 'Della' part was a tribute to Della Reese, Martha's favourite Detroit based singer.
In 1962 the Vandellas had a hit with their second release, the first composition and production from Motown's in-house songwriting team, Holland-Dozier-Holland.
'Come and Get These Memories' became the Vandellas' first Top 40 recording, reaching number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at number six on the R & B chart.
From 1963 onwards, the Vandella's became one of Motown's most successful recording groups.
Their further hits, '(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave', 'Dancing In The Street' (number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 21 on the U.K. pop singles chart in 1964) and 'Nowhere To Run' were all destined to be, not only Soul, but Rock and Roll classics.
Between 1964 and 1967, further releases, 'Wild One' (U.S. number 34), 'Nowhere to Run' (U.S. number 8), 'You've Been in Love Too Long' (U.S. number 36), 'My Baby Loves Me' (U.S. number 22), 'I'm Ready for Love' (U.S. number 9) and 'Jimmy Mack' (U.S. number 10)
Martha was eventually, given individual credit in front of the group from 1967 onwards, but their career was interrupted in 1969, when a drug problem caused Martha to suffer a nervous breakdown which led to her to be hospitalised. As a result, the Vandellas temporarily disbanded.
Fully recovered, Martha emerged in 1970 with a new line-up of Vandellas.
Martha took Motown's decision to relocate from Detroit to Hollywood very badly, and fought a legal battle to be released from her contract.
Two successive Top 40 R&B singles followed, namely, 'In and Out of My Life' and a Marvin Gaye cover song , 'Tear It On Down'.
The group disbanded following a farewell concert, held at Detroit's Cobo Hall on the 21st December 1972.
The eventual settlement entailed the loss of her use of the Vandellas' name, but left her free to sign a solo contract with MCA in 1973.
Her debut album was the result of lengthy recording sessions with producer Richard Perry.
Moving to Arista Records in 1977, Martha then became involved with the emerging Disco scene.
Her subsequent recording contracts proved unproductive, and since the early 80's she has found more consistent work on package tours featuring former Motown artists.
During the late 80's she toured with a 'fake' Vandellas before being reunited with the original group (Annette Sterling and Rosalind Holmes) on Ian Levine's Motor City label.
They released 'Step Into My Shoes' in 1989, whilst ex-Vandella Lois Reeves also recorded for Levine's label.
Martha later became a born again Christian.
She currently presides over the eighth seat of Detroit's city council, which she won during an election year in 2005.
She often spends time as both a live performer and as a city councilwoman.
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
Two of their singles, '(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave' and 'Dancing in the Street' were included in the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the group at number 96 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.