Published: 13:00, 10 November 2017
Martha Reeves says she comes to sing in Britain so often she practically lives here.
She only goes back home to America to change clothes, she quips.
Reeves spoke exclusively to the Mercury just before she went ontstage with her group the Vandellas at the Astor Community Theatre in Deal on Wednesday.
She remarked: “I’ve been here four times this year and I (practically) live here. I just go home to change clothes.
“I’ve been travelling to the UK since 1962 and I’ve been to nearly every province and I’m proud to be here.
“I’ve been to Deal before but never to this theatre and it’s lovely here.”
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, from Detroit, are best known for their Sixties hits such as Heat Wave and Dancing in the Street.
She explained that the secret of the enduring popularity of Motown is the ingenuity of the record label’s founder Berry Gordy Jr.
She said: “He was a great genius. He knew how to reach an audience. We were critiqued and trained for four years to sing the Motown sound.
"He hired the best jazz musicians he could, the Funk Brothers, who are well known all over the world. They’re the key to the Motown sound.
“You still can play the songs and they will last forever.”
Reeves, had left Newcastle at noon to arrive at Deal at about 5pm and the next show was in Leeds.
This is part of a UK tour with 10 more concerts after the Astor.
But at the age of 76 she has no intention of slowing down.
She explains: “This is my life. I don’t think I could do anything else better than perform.”
When asked what she thought of modern pop music Reeves said: “I’ve listened to all kinds of music all my life. I was trained in opera.
“My dad played the blues and my mother also taught me music. She loved Billie Holiday She would say to me: ‘Sing that song, baby.’
“I can still hear those words although she’s now in heaven.”
Reeves’ great idols are Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.
She describes herself as a single parent and has one son, now in his mid-40s, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The two Vandella backup singers are her sisters Lois, who joined in 1967, and Delphine who joined in 1980.
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Read the full interview and show review in next week's East Kent and Dover Mercuries.
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