Born: July 18, 1941
Sounds like: The perfect R&B star.
For fans of: The Ronettes, the Crystals, and all the recent nu-soul stuff like Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones.
Latest release: Home to You (2004), featuring songs written for Billie Holiday and an updated version of her hit “Jimmy Mack.”
Why you care: Though often lost in the Motown retrospectives behind the Supremes and the Marvelettes, there are few pop music catalogs as vast and fulfilling as that of Martha and the Vandellas. For a four-year period between 1963 and 1967, the trio—led by Martha Reeves—was untouchable, releasing a string of the best R&B songs ever recorded, including “Dancing in the Street,” “Nowhere to Run” and “(Love is Like a) Heatwave.” And though the Holland-Dozier-Holland team was behind most of those songs, there’s no other singer that could own the moment quite like Reeves—“Heatwave” in particular is a legend-making showcase for Reeves’ brassy, show-stopping voice, and is the one song guaranteed to get me up in the worst of times. After her Motown stint, Reeves recovered from a long bout with drug addiction, became a born-again Baptist and released a string of underrated solo albums, including 2004’s Home to You. She just ended a four-year run serving on the Detroit City Council. Is there anything this woman can’t do? Tonight she joins Portland’s own legend Mel Brown—whom Reeves introduced to the Motown family—for two special shows.
SEE IT: Martha Reeves plays Jimmy Mak’s on Thursday, Nov. 11, with Mel Brown. 7 pm (all ages) and 9:30 pm (21+). $20-$25.