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  1. #1

    Vandella solo?

    Has any Vandella other than Martha ever sang a solo part? A bit odd if they haven’t...Pips, Tops, Marvelettes, Supremes all have!

  2. #2
    why would they? In LIVE performances they had little solo parts, speaking & singing.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    why would they? In LIVE performances they had little solo parts, speaking & singing.
    Exactly they were background singers for Dr Martha Reeves.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta75 View Post
    Exactly they were background singers for Dr Martha Reeves.
    Of course I was thinking the same thing; imagine if every member of every group ever made solo records ...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by luke View Post
    Has any Vandella other than Martha ever sang a solo part? A bit odd if they haven’t...Pips, Tops, Marvelettes, Supremes all have!
    I am sure they have. Just not on record as far as I know. I think Sandra Tilley may have recorded before joining the Vandellas.

  6. #6
    In the late 1990s, when Martha was using Roz and Nettie as Vandellas, Roz would do a couple of breakouts during the show, tippin’ herself over to the edge of the stage and “connecting,” as it were, with those in front. I asked Martha if she did that all the time, and Martha, in her inimitable way, said, “Oh she can do that all she wants. If she thinks she can carry the act, let her go for it.” I had to laugh.

  7. #7
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    Gloria Williamson had two leads, which were released on Mel-O-dy 103, as The Vels in 1962. I don't think that the group called themselves that. I guess they still called themselves, "The Del Phi's", but I'm not sure. Maybe they were called "The Vandellas" then (without "Martha" in the name)?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Gloria Williamson had two leads, which were released on Mel-O-dy 103, as The Vels in 1962. I don't think that the group called themselves that. I guess they still called themselves, "The Del Phi's", but I'm not sure. Maybe they were called "The Vandellas" then (without "Martha" in the name)?
    Robb on some of Marvin Gaye's early records where the Vandellas backed him up, they were simply called "The Vandellas" on the record labels.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Robb on some of Marvin Gaye's early records where the Vandellas backed him up, they were simply called "The Vandellas" on the record labels.
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    I now about those records. I bought them, new, when they were first released. I was talking about the cuts on The Vels' release on Mel-O-dy Records, which, although released a little AFTER the first "Martha and The Vandellas" Gordy release, its recordings were made in early 1962 (just after Motown signed the group - after their contract with Chess (Check-Mate Records, as The Del-Phi's ended), - BEFORE those with Martha on lead, when Gloria Williamson was the group's main lead singer, and Martha was its secondary lead. Martha was hired as a Motown secretary (Mickey Stevenson's?) first, and soon brought the rest of her group to Motown, to audition for singing as a back-up group for the company. They were subsequently hired to sing backgrounds. The question is whether or not they recorded at all as The Dell-Fi's/Del-Phi's or Vels for any time while at Motown, or if their name was changed immediately to "The Vandellas". I know about Martha's choosing the group's name from Della Reese and the street starting with "Van...". But the question is whether she did that naming while Gloria was still with the group, or after she left.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    I now about those records. I bought them, new, when they were first released. I was talking about the cuts on The Vels' release on Mel-O-dy Records, which, although released a little AFTER the first "Martha and The Vandellas" Gordy release, its recordings were made in early 1962 (just after Motown signed the group - after their contract with Chess (Check-Mate Records, as The Del-Phi's ended), - BEFORE those with Martha on lead, when Gloria Williamson was the group's main lead singer, and Martha was its secondary lead. Martha was hired as a Motown secretary (Mickey Stevenson's?) first, and soon brought the rest of her group to Motown, to audition for singing as a back-up group for the company. They were subsequently hired to sing backgrounds. The question is whether or not they recorded at all as The Dell-Fi's/Del-Phi's or Vels for any time while at Motown, or if their name was changed immediately to "The Vandellas". I know about Martha's choosing the group's name from Della Reese and the street starting with "Van...". But the question is whether she did that naming while Gloria was still with the group, or after she left.
    The street name Martha used was Van Dyke in Detroit. Even that story about her making up the name is questionable according to Roz Ashford and Annette Helton.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    The street name Martha used was Van Dyke in Detroit. Even that story about her making up the name is questionable according to Roz Ashford and Annette Helton.
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    What is Roz's and Annette's story of how the name was chosen? Martha's story sounds reasonable. Did they say the two of them each came up with one element of the 2 part name (Van and Della)? Martha's story, or 2 of the 3 or 4 member group coming up with one part, each, sound reasonable. I wouldn't believe that Berry Gordy or Mickey Stevenson came up with the name. Who came up with The name, Dell-Fi's? Why was it changed to Del-Phi's? Did Joe Hunter send Martha to Motown? She and The rest of The Dell-Fi's were working for Joe Hunter and Fred Brown at Kable and Mickay's Records in 1961 and early 1962, while Hunter was still working at Motown, as the piano player in The Funk Brothers.

  12. #12
    The group backed LaBrenda Ben as "The Beljeans" and Hattie Littles as "The Fayettes"

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Fullfillingnessfirstfinale View Post
    The group backed LaBrenda Ben as "The Beljeans" and Hattie Littles as "The Fayettes"
    I'm pretty sure I remember Louvain Demps saying that The Beljeans and The Fayettes were The Andantes, NOT The Vandellas.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by luke View Post
    Has any Vandella other than Martha ever sang a solo part? A bit odd if they haven’t...Pips, Tops, Marvelettes, Supremes all have!
    Good question Luke. If I remember correctly, Martha Reeves hired the members of The Vandellas as her backup singers (unlike the other Motown groups). So it's not that surprising that none of the recordings that they made have any of the other members of the group singing lead.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Good question Luke. If I remember correctly, Martha Reeves hired the members of The Vandellas as her backup singers (unlike the other Motown groups). So it's not that surprising that none of the recordings that they made have any of the other members of the group singing lead.
    I think what Martha did was recruit Vandellas, but Motown hired them, which is why they sued Motown and not Martha when they were owed royalties for the songs they recorded. But they were certainly not a group in the traditional sense. Didn't Rosalind do an interview a couple years back where she says something along the lines of that she wasn't even interested in being a singer but got pulled into it, more or less, by Annette or another friend in the late 50s? Some groups are made up of multiple lead singers who enjoy the spotlight (the Supremes, the Tempts, the J5, etc) while some others just aren't constructed that way. I think the fact that Martha's name was out front from the very first release says all that needs to be said about the chances of an odd Vandella lead or two existing.

  16. #16
    I just watched an interview with Roz and Annette and Roz said they were not interested in singing lead that's why they hired a great lead.
    In reference to Martha's comment if Roz thinks she could carry the act that was uncalled for. You tell that Roz just enjoy engaging with the audience

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by rod_rick View Post
    In reference to Martha's comment if Roz thinks she could carry the act that was uncalled for. You tell that Roz just enjoy engaging with the audience
    That's just Martha being Martha. For better or for worse, mincing words has never been in her repertoire after all; the lady speaks her mind. I suspect tensions might have been brewing within the group around then, because it wasn't long before she dismissed Roz and Nettie and brought in Lois and Delphy as Vandellas. I can only imagine she's able to exercise more authority with kid sisters and keep them more "in line." In a perverse way it's sort of amusing to me.

  18. #18
    Seemed kind of difficult for Annette and Roz after Martha pleaded with them to rejoin after all those years and then dismissed them again.

  19. #19
    Rosalind and Annette had day jobs back in the day , late 80's / 90's that provided benefits that entertainment business does not, Martha on many occasions had to use her sisters when Roz & Annette could not make a gig then it became a thing where the sisters wanted & needed the gigs so Martha stuck with family. I don't think she "dismissed" them.After they retired from their jobs Roz & Annette wanted to be & are Vandellas performing again.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    Rosalind and Annette had day jobs back in the day , late 80's / 90's that provided benefits that entertainment business does not, Martha on many occasions had to use her sisters when Roz & Annette could not make a gig then it became a thing where the sisters wanted & needed the gigs so Martha stuck with family. I don't think she "dismissed" them.After they retired from their jobs Roz & Annette wanted to be & are Vandellas performing again.
    I remember Nettie saying she worked at St. John’s Hospital, and Roz said she worked for “Ma Bell,” as she referred to the phone utility, even though by that time the monopoly had been broken up, so I imagine some younger audience members didn’t know what she meant.

    Their being in the nine-to-five work force while Martha was performing must have limited their availability for a lot of gigs, and I’m sure that complicated things for everyone. They’re retired now of course, and seem to be content singing behind Roschelle, but I still will always wonder what really went down. I noted some apparent tension that last time I was around them. Not that it matters a bit in the big picture.

    Roz once gave me her business card, which read, “Rosalind A. Holmes,” and beneath that, in a smaller italicized font, “Vandella.” I loved it!

  21. #21
    I read (Martha’s book?) that she saw Annette or Roz out and about and strongly asked her to come back in the 80s I believe. Then a number of years later they were gone and Martha’s Sisters there ever since. As Martha hires them I assumed she let them go! The Original Vandellas sound better than ever.

  22. #22
    Lois recorded solo tracks for Ian Levine's Motorcity project....I have at least one on a mixed Motorcity vinyl comp LP

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by gman View Post
    Lois recorded solo tracks for Ian Levine's Motorcity project....I have at least one on a mixed Motorcity vinyl comp LP
    I think I have a couple of Levine tracks by "Roz & Annette" as well.

  24. #24
    I've never heard more than one explanation of the name, which is Martha's: combining the local Van Dyke Street with Della Reese, whom she admired. Perhaps the dell part, extracted from Dell-Fi's (or Del-Phis) could have figured in as well. And does it really matter anyway?

  25. #25
    The original Vandellas interview


  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by CoolKatz View Post
    The original Vandellas interview

    Thank you CoolKatz for providing this video.

  27. #27
    Well, that blows Martha's account all to smithereens!
    I guess we'll never know the real story.
    Whoever came up with the name, it was original for sure, and it certainly worked for them.

  28. #28
    ^ Fascinating! Enjoyed this very much. Nothing negative, just good memories. I especially like their thoughts on Berry Gordy.

    Thanks for posting.

  29. #29
    At one point Roz was engaged to Florence Ballard's brother Jesse.

  30. #30
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    According to Roz and Annette, their group couldn't come up with a name, so Mickey Stevenson gave them the name, "Vandellas".

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    According to Roz and Annette, their group couldn't come up with a name, so Mickey Stevenson gave them the name, "Vandellas".
    I knew there was a different version to the name story.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    According to Roz and Annette, their group couldn't come up with a name, so Mickey Stevenson gave them the name, "Vandellas".
    The record logs show that the name, "The Dominettes", was considered at one time.

  33. #33
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    Ha! Ha! I can just picture them in leather or PVC, or outfits, carrying whips! I guess they rebelled against that idea, just like The Temptations did vs. their one record group name, "The Pirates" (they didn't want to wear pirate outfits on stage).

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Ha! Ha! I can just picture them in leather or PVC, or outfits, carrying whips! I guess they rebelled against that idea, just like The Temptations did vs. their one record group name, "The Pirates" (they didn't want to wear pirate outfits on stage).
    That is too much! hehehehehehehehe!

  35. #35
    I remember not even knowing what a "Vandella" was a while back, and when I looked it up, was quite shocked to find out! Not a name I would have chose based on its actual meaning

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