Martha Reeves wore duel hats when she started at Motown records, being their secretary and also recording demos with other artists on the label. When she and her two friends Rosalind Ashford and Annette Sterling were asked to sing back-up on Marvin Gaye’s ‘Stubborn Kind of Fellow’ in 1961, the trio sang with such verve and conviction that some joked they were ‘vandalizing’ Gaye’s sound. Very shortly after, Martha & the Vandellas were formally signed as their own group to Motown and began their recording career. Dancing In The Street was written by Marvin Gaye & William Stevenson and originally conceived for Stevenson’s soon-to-be wife and fellow Motown member Kim Weston. Weston turned the song down, and when Reeves was summoned to record a demo, Stevenson is quoted as saying that “When Martha got into the song…that was the end of the conversation!” The song was released in July of 1964 (with Betty Kelly taking over vocals for Annette Sterling) and first charted on August 22, 1964. The song was written by Gaye & Stevenson as they observed Detroit on the hot days of summer when the fire hydrants would be spraying water into the street with people gathering and lining up to “dance through them.”
Please enjoy this performance by Martha & the Vandellas on the UK show ‘Ready Steady Go!’ and feel encouraged to get up and groove to this summertime Motown classic!