The Velvelettes


The Velvelettes

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Velvelettes
Background = group_or_band


Img_capt =
Alias =
Origin = Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genre = R&B, pop, soul
Years_active = 1961–1970
Label = Motown
Associated_acts = Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Supremes
Past_members = Carolyn Gill*
Mildred Gill*
Bertha Barbee*
Norma Barbee*
Betty Kelly*
Annette MacMillan
Sandra Tilley
*Original Members

The Velvelettes was an American singing girl group, signed to Motown Records in the 1960s.

History

Early years and establishment

The group was founded in 1961 by sisters Carolyn and Millie Gill with cousins Bertha Barbee-McNeal and Norma Barbee (both from Flint, Michigan) on the Western Michigan University campus, where they were students. Carolyn's friend Betty Kelly was also an original member. The group signed to Motown Records, but were not given top priority, as other female vocal groups were attracting audiences and recording hits. They recorded with Motown during 1963 although none of the material was released by Motown during that year. However, Motown allowed two of the recorded tracks "There He Goes" and "That's The Reason Why" produced by William Stevenson to be leased to the IPG label (Independent Producers Group) as as single. While the group awaited their chance at stardom, they recorded backing vocals for more established Motown girl groups, including The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Supremes.

The Velvelettes got their break in 1964 thanks to young producer Norman Whitfield, who produced "Needle In A Haystack" as a single for the group, on Motown's VIP subsidiary. "Needle In A Haystack" peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-1964. The group recorded its follow-up, "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'", with Whitfield again producing, and spent time on various Motown-sponsored tours as an opening act. In late 1963 or early 1964, Betty Kelly left the group to join Martha and the Vandellas, replacing Annette Sterling. The Velvelettes continued as a foursome, with various members leaving and rejoining, as family matters dictated.

Later years and dissolution

With a song on the charts and a place on several concert tours, The Velvelettes began recording an album. Despite burgeoning success, the members of the group began to disagree about the music they were recording. Half wanted to record more mature songs and thought the material was trite, while the other half didn't want to rock the boat so early in their career. By 1965, all the original members, save Carolyn, had left. Carolyn recruiting two new members, Sandra Tilley and Annette MacMillan.

Motown became apprehensive about the group's potential, and wary of the expense of the recordings. Not wanting to let good time and money go to waste, the label released two additional singles, "Lonely Lonely Girl Am I" and "A Bird In The Hand". Both singles flopped, and Motown cancelled the scheduled release of the group's eponymous debut album.

The Velvelettes returned to recording backing vocals, and occasionally were able to record new material for themselves. The last Velvelettes recordings included "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You", which became their last American single. It dented the R&B charts. Sandra Tilley left the group to join Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, replacing Rosalind Ashford, and the group gradually split apart. Lead singer Carolyn "Cal" Gill married future Temptation Richard Street in November 1969, and The Velvelettes officially broke up in early to mid 1970.

In 1971, "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You" became a hit in Great Britain, peaking at number 34 on the British singles chart. Despite the new success, the group didn't reunite until 1987, when the Gill sisters and Barbee cousins re-recorded their original hits with some new songs for the album "One Door Closes" for Motorcity Records. The group continues to tour today.

In 2006, The Velvelettes contributed to the double CD "Masters of Funk, Soul and Blues present A soulful tale of two cities". Detroit stars such as Lamont Dozier, Freda Payne, George Clinton and Bobby Taylor recorded remakes of classic soul songs from Philadelphia International Records. The Velvelettes sang "One of a kind love affair" by The Spinners. The other CD featured Philly stars such as Jean Carne, Bunny Sigler, Ted Mills or Jimmy Ellis doing Motown classics.

Discography

Albums

*1966: "The Velvelettes" (not completed)
*1984: "One Door Closes"
*1996: "Best of the Velvelettes"
*1999: "The Very Best of the Velvelettes"
*2004: "Motown Anthology"

ingles

*1963: "There He Goes"
*1964: "Needle in a Haystack" (US #45)
*1965: "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'" (R&B #21, US #64)
*1965: "Lonely Lonely Girl Am I"
*1965: "A Bird in the Hand (Is Worth Two in the Bush)"
*1966: "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You" (R&B #43, UK #34)

External links

* [http://www.velvelettes.com The Velvelettes official website]
* [http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Frontrow/2301/velvelettes.html Girl Group Chronicles: The Velvelettes]
* [http://surf.to/velvelettes The Velvelettes Photo Gallery]


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