GIRL GROUPS: The Grit, The Glamour, The Glory
(featuring The Supremes, The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Velvelettes and the Unsung Vocal Heroes of Motown, The Andantes)
Exhibit Now Showing
DETROIT, MICHIGAN — In the 1960s, Motown’s stable of dazzling girl groups was unequaled on the pop music scene – in Detroit or anywhere else. Responsible for a non-stop avalanche of hits, The Marvelettes, The Vandellas, The Velvelettes, and The Supremes were crucial to Motown’s ascent as the country’s most successful independent record label; as were the invaluable studio contributions of The Andantes, who made everyone on the label sound better with their sweet gospel-imbued harmonies.
In a brand new exhibit at the world famous Motown Museum – aka “Hitsville, U.S.A.” – these pioneering women will have the spotlight all to themselves.
“We are very proud to exhibit these recording artists and the contributions they have made to music, style, and popular culture,” says Museum Interim CEO Allen Rawls. “We also want to show how they achieved stardom through their persistence, drive, and talent.”
The exhibit – which includes never-before-seen photographs, early show posters, stage costumes, 45-rpm records and even an original program from Dick Clark’s touring “Caravan of Stars” – honors four of Motown’s most famous girl groups, and one who never quite got their due.
“We all know the music of the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, and many people are familiar with the Marvelettes and the Velvelettes,” says exhibit curator Lina Stephens. “But unless you are a Motown aficionado, you’ve probably never even heard of the Andantes. These girls were the vocal equivalent of Motown’s famed studio band, The Funk Brothers, singing background vocals for artists like The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston and Stevie Wonder.”
“The Motown Museum hasn’t really focused on specific groups; it’s been more all-encompassing,” Stephens adds. “With this show, we have the opportunity to focus just on the girl groups and tell the largely unknown stories of how they got started.”
These are the real-life Dream Girls that bedazzled America and the world, the glamorous pride of Berry Gordy’s musical empire. They were role models for a generation while recording some of the greatest songs ever committed to tape – songs that still play all over the globe on a minute-by-minute basis. That they hold up so well over a half century later vividly testifies to the brilliance and creativity defining Motown’s girl groups during a pivotal decade in American history. These women embodied the Grit, the Glamour, and the Glory that was 1960s Motown. At the same time, they had a major impact on female empowerment.