Claudette Robinson, former vocalist of Motown group The Miracles, confirmed on Instagram over the weekend that The Marvelettes member Wanda Young has died. Young was 78-years-old. Cause of death is unknown. An official report came from UDiscoverMusic, where Young was honored for The Marvelettes impact during the Motown era.
Born Wanda LaFaye Young in Michigan in 1943, Young was a graduate of Inskter High School in the 1960s when she was approached by soon-to-be group member Gladys Horton to audition for a spot in girl group The Marvels. The audition came after former Marvels member Georgia Dobbins had left. Once Young joined, the group was renamed as The Marvelettes and recorded their debut single “Please Mr. Postman” for budding Berry Gordy imprint Tamla Records, which later became Motown.
While Young sang backing vocals on “Please Mr. Postman”, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100 as the group’s first No. 1 hit which tied with the release of their 1961 debut album aptly titled after the song. “Please Mr. Postman” was later reworked into covers by The Beatles on their 1963 album With the Beatles and 1974 The Carpenters album Horizon.
In 1963, Young married Bobby Rodgers of The Miracles, who she later divorced in 1975.
According to Pitchfork, Young’s first song as lead vocalist came in 1965 on “I’ll Keep Holding On” which reached No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Marvelettes continued recording throughout the 1960s, disbanding in the 1970s at the height of the disco era. Their final album, 1970s The Return of the Marvelettes was largely recorded by Young with production by Smokey Robinson. Joining UK record label Motorcity Label, Young and Horton reformed alongside two new members to release 1990 album Now!
The Marvelettes were inducted into The Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1995 and The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, also nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and 2015.
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