The Martha Reeves Interview

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Wishin and Hopin'

The sanctified churches in the south lent themselves to a Afro-Centric form of appreciation for their deity. The first modified drum kits were in the sanctified churches with sticks and tambourines and maybe even an electric guitar.

The gospel hymns were infectious and spoke of celebration, hope and spirit. The preachers were often pugnacious and speaking to a congregation that wanted the truth, not the warmed over Anglo/Protestant messages coming from the other side of town.

These preachers found places like Eufala, AL untenable and took their families to the Midwest where car companies and industry roared with commerce jobs and a hot bed of cross fertilized music.

My guest today is a superstar soul singer. She has been striving for elevated consciousness and individualism since she broke on the scene over five decades ago. Born the daughter of a preacher man my guest was immersed in Detroit's Metropolitan church and choir. She was also privy to the hottest nightclub scene in America where jazz was being played in Soul clubs and Blues was being played in the jazz clubs or on the streets.

There were no jazz schools and learning came in the form of the street, finding like minded singers and accompanists because it didn't matter what you wear just as long as you are there.

My guest had been the undisputed truth of Motown. Her southern guy bucket approach was heavier and funkier then many of her contemporaries. Her songs had hooks rarely scene for the time that allowed audiences of all colors to hip sway in the night on TV shows, dances and studio demos.

She became an instant sensation and the testament to her longevity is that her tunes are still recognizable today by a new generation of Americans. One that is less white, more multiethnic but maybe less sure of their roots.

My guests roots were with Della Reese who's name she incorporated into her trio known as "The Vandellas." She learned how to project on the bandstand and entertain as well as swing.

When Motown went west she stayed in Detroit and became a purveyor of social justice while continuing her performing career on RCA/Arista and Fantasy.

Nowhere to run, Martha Reeves welcome to the JFS.

 

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