PRESS RELEASE- 30 June 2009

• Essential Celebration of 50 years of Motown

• A Mean Fiddler presentation in association with Legends Touring International: Divas of Motown for one night only at the HMV Apollo Fri 13 Nov

• Mable John, Chris Clark, Jack Ashford’s Funk Brothers Big Band , Thelma Houston, Brenda Holloway and Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence, Formerly of the Supremes

Continuing a year-long celebration of Motown’s 50th anniversary DIVAS OF MOTOWN is undoubtedly the most authentic way to commemorate this milestone from a female artist perspective. The line-up provides a unique opportunity for genuine Motown connoisseurs as well as lovers of the enormously popular range of Motown sounds to satisfy their souls in a night that features true greats, each with their own claim to Motown fame and each a true original.

By virtue of being the first female to lay down a track on vinyl “Who Wouldn’t Love A Man Like That” MABLE JOHN became the first lady of Motown. Born in Louisiana in 1930, Mable and her family moved to Detroit in 1942. By the mid fifties Mable was the music minister for her local church. Being convinced by her boyfriend that Churches don’t pay but show business does he introduced Mable to one of his customers. This customer was Berry Gordy.

At this time Berry was working at the motor plant and had nothing to his name but musical instinct. Berry had a vision to prepare Mable to command a stage, encouraging her to closely study the divas of the day. After two years of grooming Berry took Mable to the studio and made the first solo female artist recording under the Motown umbrella. Berry played the piano.

MABLE JOHN made her professional debut at The Flame Show Bar opening for Billie Holiday and singing along side “Lady Day”. Berry’s belief in Mable was strong. The Supremes and The Temptations were her backing singers. In 1966 Mable moved from Motown to Stax where her legendary status as a soul singer was solidified and her career continued as the leader of Ray Charles’ Raelettes.

At first glance, young 17-year-old CHRIS CLARK – a tall blue-eyed California import – seemed an unlikely candidate for membership in Detroit’s closely-knit Motown family. By the time she came to Motown’s attention, she had been on the road nearly two years – often barely two steps ahead of the Vice Squad – which frowned mightily on underage performers. Thanks to Gordy’s renowned genius at spotting and developing raw talent, she went on to become not only the first White album artist on the label, but also an integral part of his creative team.

In 2005 a small group of Motown purists dug into the Motown treasure chest & released a 50-track double-CD compilation includes Soul Sounds, C.C. Rides Again which underlines why Gordy believed so much that Chris Clark was a true Motown Diva. Chris was always a bigger star in the UK than in her native US and songs like “Love Gone Bad” and “I Want To Go Back There Again” are still Northern Soul Classics

JACK ASHFORD is a celebrated Motown musician. His legendary performances on the tambourine and vibes enhanced the majority of the Classic Motown hits from the 1960’s through the early 1970’s. As a member of the FUNK BROTHERS BAND, he played on more number one hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and the Beatles combined. From the “Snakepit”, at Motowns’ Studio “A”, he delivered the steady and foreboding rattle of his tambourine on the intro to Marvin Gayes’ “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, among other hits. Also known as “The Fabulous Tambourine Man” he is the remaining original member of the Funk Brothers’ Band.

Jack’s band consists of top quality musicians who capture the very essence of the “The Original Motown Sound”. Therefore, you get the same finger-snapping, hand-clapping, sing-along concert that one would expect at a Motown Revue!

THELMA HOUSTON was the first Motown artist to win a Grammy. She received the award for best R&B performance by a female artist.

Her first album out of the Motown camp was simply titled “Thelma Houston”, with a single from the album “You’ve Been Doing Me Wrong For So Long”, being nominated for a Grammy. Her big breakthrough came in 1976 with her 3rd album “Any Way You Like It” and the smash hit single “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. This album and the singles released from it have made Thelma Houston the biggest disco diva ever to come out of Motown.

Should the music industry ever officially establish a Diva Hall of Fame, there’s no question that Motown chanteuse BRENDA HOLLOWAY would be a charter member. Brenda has won numerous awards in her career including the 1999 Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award. The Beatles insisted she must be part of their 1965 North American Tour, a favour Brenda is still returning to this day with ‘Let it Be’ a staple of her repertoire.

Motown’s first Los Angeles-based artist, the “cry in her voice” is paired with subtle shadings of underlying power, giving her songs a quiet force that still works today. This quality is especially evident on her signature hits, the melancholy ballad “Every Little Bit Hurts” and the sassy, (pre-“I Will Survive” anthem) “When I’m Gone”.

Brenda was one of the few female artists in Motown to write her own songs, and she had a much grittier approach to songs than her contemporaries in the label, which underscores Holloway’s standing as one of Motown’s and music history’s most distinguished female artists.

The Supremes are Motown’s most successful female group. Their reign over the music charts was predominant throughout the 60’s and 70’s and earned them global accolades. The Supremes had eight individual members during this time and each of the eight ladies contributed to the group’s recording and performing success. SCHERRIE PAYNE & LYNDA LAURENCE, FORMERLY OF THE SUPREMES, are two former members of the Motown signed and recorded Supremes.

Scherrie Payne was born in Detroit and discovered by Motown producer Eddie Holland singing as the lead in a group called Glass House. Known affectionately by fans as The Little Lady With The Big Voice she brought her superb vocals and dynamic stage presence to the Supremes in 1973. Scherrie was to be The Supremes’ final lead singer.

Lynda joined the Supremes in late 1971, debuting on stage as their lead singer at the prestigious H.I.C. Arena in Hawaii. A native of Philadelphia, Lynda’s association with Motown began when she performed and recorded with Stevie Wonder. She features prominently on his hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours).” Lynda continued to record and tour with Stevie for several years as a backing group manager/singer.

Joyce Vincent completes Scherrie and Lynda’s trio, and is a native of Detroit Michigan. Prior to joining the Scherrie and Lynda’s group, Joyce was an in demand back up singer and recorded in the famed Motown Studio A.  Joyce is most remembered as a member of  "Tony Orlando & Dawn!"

The ladies were honoured in 2005 by the Hollywood History Museum for their contribution to The Supremes’ legacy.

No one on the planet should miss this opportunity to see and hear the continuation of the “Motown Sound”, performed exquisitely by the very best musicians in the business.

Divas of Motown
Hammersmith Apollo
Friday 13 November 1009, Doors 6.30pm
Tickets £27.50 – Limited Number of VIP Tickets at £95
HMV Hammersmith Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH
www.hammersmithapollo.net / ticketmaster.co.uk
24 hr credit card hotline 08448 444748