Martha and the Vandellas were one of the most successful groups in the Motown roster during the 1960s and fully active from 1962 to 1972, performing at various times doo-wop, pop, rock and roll and soul.
The label's second most-successful girl group after The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas were known for a churchier, more southern-styled soul than the Supremes, as typified in Motown hits such as "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave", "Jimmy Mack", "I'm Ready For Love", "My Baby Loves Me", "Nowhere to Run", and, their signature song, "Dancing in the Street".
Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1960, the group had initially gone by the name The Del-Phis and originally was a quartet led by Martha Reeves and childhood friends Rosalind Ashford, Annette Beard and Gloria Williamson. Williamson left after failed singles on other labels in 1962 leaving the quartet as a trio. They changed their name again to The Vells signing a deal with a Motown subsidiary, Me-LO-Dy, and singing background for established Motown performers such as Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye before signing a new deal with Motown subsidary Gordy, changing their name to Martha and the Vandellas in the process.
In 1964, the Vandellas' lineup changed with Betty Kelley replacing Sterling in 1967. Kelley was fired and was replaced by Martha's younger sister, Sandra "Lois" Reeves, in 1969, Ashford was also fired and replaced by Sandra Tilley. The lineup of the Reeves sisters and Tilley continued after Martha's return from an institution after suffering a nervous breakdown. The group's final performance at Detroit's Cobo Hall ended their twelve-year existence in 1972.