Who Are They?
The Marvelettes started out as a group of high-school friends from the suburbs of Inkster Michigan in 1961. The group of five included Galdys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and recent graduate Georgia Dobbins. The group were all members of the schools glee cub, and they were assembled by Horton to perform at a talent show. This talent show offered its top prize an audition with a scout from Motown Records. Although the girls did not win the talent show, they were allowed to attend the audition by the persuasion of a teacher. The Motown rep. told the girl to group to bring an original song and the result was the song “Please Mr. Postman.”
Once Berry Gordy Jr. heard the song, ‘Please Mr. Postman’ he instantly signed the singers. The song hit #1 on the charts and it gave Motown their first number one pop single. Prior to the signing of the hit girl group, Dobbins left to tend to her family and was replaced by another friend of Horton, Wanda Young. In 1962 a dance craze, called the twist, infected the nation. Motown hopped on this wave very quickly and they released “Twistin’ Mr. Postman” which reached the top 50 on the pop charts and “Playboy” which hit number seven on the pop charts. Continuing on the momentum they had, In 1965, the Marvelettes released “Don’t Mess With Bill” which again was able to place them in the top ten on the R&B and pop charts. However all that glittered, was not gold within the group. In ’63 Juanita Cowart left due to battles with anxiety and ultimately had a breakdown. In ’64 Tillman was ill with sickle cell ultimately forcing her to stop preforming with the group. While the group face many hardships and turnarounds, that still did not stop them from producing top tier music like “When You’re Young & in Love”& “My Baby must be a Musician” between ’66 and ’67. The last Marvelettes hit “Destination Anywhere” was released in 1968. The group officially stopped making music by 1969, but they continued to tour and Motown released four singles by them between 1969 and 1971, unfortunately none of them were successful.
American girl groups were popular from the early to the mid-1960s, the era before the early start of rock & roll. The girl group era produced a clearly identifiable hybrid of gospel, blues, doo-wop, and pop. The Marvelettes essentially paved the way for black girl groups.