Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dancing in the street with Martha Reeves!

It's my lucky day! I got to go hear the Motown legend Martha Reeves in KINK FM's Bing Lounge this afternoon.

Martha was born on July 18, 1941 in Eufaula, Alabama, as one of Elijah and Ruby's 11 children. Today she said that she didn't realize she was poor until she left home. She speaks about her loving family and the way she still channels her parents when she's singing. She has some fascinating stories to share about the early days of Motown. (She has written a memoir, Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva, which I plan to check out.)

The brief (45-minute) show consisted of a short interview and several songs, which was recorded and broadcast on the radio. She was accompanied by her long-time music director, Al McKenzie (who also played for the Four Tops and The Temptations).

Since I happen to be reading a biography of Harper Lee at the moment, I can't help but wonder about all the things Reeves has seen in her life. She started performing when she was 18, in 1959. She talks about the racism in this video, "Going in the south and having segregated audiences and being shot at and being denied privileges. To overcome the fact that our earlier records couldn't have our pictures because they might not have sold." She also addresses the deep racism they experienced when touring through the south in the 1960s in this Guardian article, also mentioning that Barack Obama reminds her of Marvin Gaye. I can't help but notice that in this video of Heat Wave, their audience appears to be entirely white.

In recent years, Reeves has served on the Detroit City Council, although now she's back to touring and performing. Now 70 and a grandma of three, she gave an inspiring, fun performance! My friend Tina and I were in the fourth row--about the same distance away from the stage as Mike and I were when we got to see the Indigo Girls (in another free concert I won from KINK).
Reeves closed with her iconic, legendary song, "Dancing in the Streets," which has always been one of my personal favorites! Enjoy!

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