Motown Backup Singers -
Unsung Vocalists

Take away the sweet, punchy, and echoing vocals of Motown backup singers, and what do you have left?

Some great pop-soul music plus an occasionally silent, very lonely-sounding soloist!

The collective--if not individual--names of some background vocalists did adorn marquees and posters. Marvelettes! Miracles! Pips!

But who were those men who sang on Mary Wells records? Who were those women behind Marvin Gaye? Whose sometimes improvised, always well-integrated, usually anonymous harmonies spiced up song after song?

Some of those session singers became big soul and R&B stars themselves. Others became question marks to attentive listeners.

Speaking of questions, here's another one: Is there any resource that unites a bunch of Motown backup singers, discloses their names, and credits their work?

Yes. This one!

Motown Backup Singers -
In the Shadows

The Rayber Voices

  • Members (usually four):
    • Robert Bateman (bass, future Brianbert songwriter, producer)
    • Brian Holland (baritone, future Brianbert and HDH songwriter, producer)
    • Raynoma Liles (soprano, future music partner, business partner, and wife of Berry Gordy)
    • Sonny Sanders (tenor)
    • Also: Berry Gordy (president), Gwendolyn Murray, Louvain Demps (soprano)
  • Sang With:
    • Eddie Holland ("Merry-Go-Round")
    • Marv Johnson ("Come to Me")

The Voice Masters

  • Members (usually five):
    • Henry Dixon (tenor, future Original)
    • Melvin Franklin (bass, future Temptation)
    • Walter Gaines (baritone, future Original)
    • Ty Hunter (lead tenor, future Original)
    • C.P. Spencer (tenor, future Original)
    • Also: Lamont Dozier (lead tenor, future HDH songwriter, producer), David Ruffin (lead tenor, future Temptation), Joe Charles (aka Joe Murphy) (lead tenor)

The Love-Tones

  • Members (usually three):
    • Stan Bracely (bass)
    • Carl Jones (lead tenor)
    • Joe Miles (baritone)
    • Also: Mickey Stevenson (tenor, future A&R director, songwriter, producer)
  • Sang With:
    • Mary Wells ("The One Who Really Loves You")
    • Marvin Gaye ("Soldier's Plea")

The Andantes

  • Members (usually three):
    • Marlene Barrow
    • Louvain Demps (soprano)
    • Jackie Hicks (alto)
  • Sang With:
    • Mary Wells ("My Guy")
    • Marvin Gaye ("How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)," What's Going On)
    • The Four Tops ("Ask the Lonely")
    • Brenda Holloway ("When I'm Gone")
    • Martha and the Vandellas ("My Baby Loves Me")
    • Diana Ross and the Supremes ("Love Child")
    • Stevie Wonder ("For Once in My Life")
    • The Marvelettes ("Marionette")

Motown Backup Singers -
Among the Stars

The Supremes (sang with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations)

The Temptations (sang with Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye)

Martha and the Vandellas (sang with Marvin Gaye, Sandra Mallett of the Elgins)

The Four Tops

The Spinners

The Originals (sang with Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Ruffin, Stevie Wonder)

The Vancouvers (sang with Chris Clark)

Syreeta Wright (sang with Stevie Wonder)

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