Monday, December 27, 2021

Motown Legend Wanda Young Dead at 78

Courtesy Motown Museum 

Over the weekend, Wanda Young, one of the lead singers of Motown girl group The Marvelettes, which found chart-topping success with their infectious brand of doo-wop in the 1960s, was confirmed to have died at the age of 78 earlier this year.

Young’s daughter, Meta Ventress, confirmed to The New York Times in a story published Saturday that her mother died on Dec. 15, in suburban Detroit from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Young, who also recorded as Wanda Rogers after marrying fellow Motown alum, The Miracles Bobby Rogers in 1963, was an early replacement member for the group originally named The Casinyets, replacing founding member Georgia Dobbins shortly before the group signed its first deal with Motown.

After taking a backseat to group founder Gladys Horton, singing lead on B-sides and co-leads on some of the group’s songs but not their singles; Young scored her first A-side lead and a desperately needed hit for the then waning group with "I'll Keep Holding On" in 1965. The Young-led single peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard R&B charts and started a new area of success for the group.

Young remained the lead singer until the group disbanded in 1970, singing on such classics as the million-seller “Don’t Mess With Bill,” "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game", "When You're Young and in Love," and "My Baby Must Be a Magician.”

Ventress told the Times her mother, who released a solo album produced by Smokey Robinson in 1970 that was billed as “The Return of The Marvelettes,” despite other group members not participating, didn’t wake up every day thinking of The Marvelettes. But she never lost that glamour.

“I told her constantly, ‘All these people love you,’” Ventress said. “And she’d say, ‘Wow.’”

The album flopped and Young left the label and lived off royalties, for the most part, making brief returns to performing in the 80s and 90s.

Founded by 15-year-old Horton in the fall of 1960 with fellow members of her high school glee club at Inkster Michigan’s eponymously named high school, The Marvelettes had a string of hits with Motown after being signed by Motown chief Berry Gordy.

Their signature song and first major release for the label, the 1961 number-one single, "Please Mr. Postman,” was one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group. The Marvelettes have been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice. On August 17, 2013, The Marvelettes were inducted into the first class of the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.

Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart, and Dobbins round out the original lineup for the group.

Along with Ventress, Young is survived by her other children, Robert Rogers III and Bobbae Rogers; seven grandchildren; a great-grandson; four sisters and four brothers.

No comments:

Post a Comment