In honor of Black Music Month, Dean Meminger honors legendary musicians in the ongoing NY1 series "Soul's Survivors," starting with Motown hit-maker Martha Reeves.
That Motown sound has been pulling fans closer to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas from the time they hit the music charts more than 50 years ago. And one of their first hits was a scorcher.
Martha Reeves is still working up a sweat performing that song and many of her other hits on stages around the world.
"We've been singing these songs since 19... oh who cares. And they still sound good to me," Reeves says.
She refuses to say which one her hits is her favorite.
"Every song is special to me. Every song means something to me and I sing it with joy," Reeves says.
"This is our fiftieth anniversary of 'Dancing in the Street' and I am happy to celebrate it. Fifty, fifty years!" Reeves says. "It has been fifty wonderful years."
She says "Dancing in the Street" was actually about having a good time, but it became an anthem for the civil rights and Black Power movement.
"I can image someone thinking that's what we were talking about, especially with Marvin Gaye's flavor, because he wrote the song," says Reeves. "So if we could dance instead of burning the stores down and fighting and throwing bricks and things—if we can dance instead of that, that's what I think Marvin meant."
Reeves was signed with Motown for about ten years starting in the early 60s.
Her other hits include "Jimmy Mack," "Come Get These Memories" and "Nowhere to Run."
Although a love song, "Nowhere to Run" also became a hit people associated with the Vietnam War and football games.
Reeves says no matter what meaning listeners get out of her songs, she'll keep on performing them as long as she can.
"After 50 years, it is still music that makes you happy, makes you dance, makes you love your loved ones," Reeves says.