Martha Reeves (born July 18, 1941), was the lead singer of the American Motown Records group Martha & the Vandellas. She was born in Eufaula, Alabama to Elijah Joshua and Ruby Lee Gilmore Reeves. The Reeves family moved to Detroit, Michigan right after Martha's birth. Reeves was brought up in church, for her grandfather Elijah Reeves was a minister at Detroit's Metropolitan Church.
As a teenager, Reeves became a secretary at Motown, and founded a singing group called the Del-Phis. The Del-Phis became Motown recording artists --rechristended "The Vandellas" -- after Mary Wells didn't show for a recording session and Reeves was pulled in to record the song intended for Wells. Martha & the Vandellas recorded several successful hits during the mi-1960s, including "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave", "Nowhere to Run", and "Dancing in the Street", and also backed Marvin Gaye on his earliest hits: "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," "Pride & Joy" and "Hitch Hike."
The Vandellas suffered a setback in 1968 when Reeves, by that time addicted to drugs, suffered a nervous breakdown after a bad acid trip. By 1972, the Vandellas broke up and Reeves left Motown, which moved that same year from Detroit to Los Angeles.
Reeves released albums on MCA, Arista, and Fantasy. Although her star-studded 1974 solo debut was the most expensive album recorded to that date, it and Reeves' other solo albums failed to draw and audience, and by the 1980s Reeves had withdrawn from recording and become a born-again Christian. In the early 1990s, she and other Motown veterans recorded updated versions of their hits and new material for London-based MotorCity Records.
The 1990s saw Reeves out of the studio, but making numerous television appearances, and constantly on the road, appearing as a solo artist, with original Vandellas Annette Beard, and Rosalind Ashford. She toured the UK in a special Motown review called Dancing in the Street, and the US in a production of Ain't Misbehavin'. Today, she is usually backed by her sisters Lois (who debuted as a Vandella in 1967, on "Honey Chile" and later sang with Al Green's backup group, Quiet Elegance) and Delphine, who has been with the group since the early 1990s.
Reeves, a pianist, producer and songwriter, released her latest album, Home to You, through True Life Entertainment in 2004. She produced and wrote all of the songs except an updated "Jimmy Mack" and the Billie Holiday classic, "God Bless the Child." Reeves was honored by the Black Women in Publishing organization for her journalistic efforts (an early contributor to Soul newspaper) and her 1995 autobiography.
In 2005, Reeves ran for and won a seat on the Detroit City Council. Reeves said she was running for the "youths of the city" and for adequate policing of the neighborhoods. One of her ideas to boost Detroit's economy was a series of downtown statues of such Motown figures as Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.