Have you ever listened to one of many ’60s Motown songs and thought to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder who that is singing in the background…I guess I’ll never know…”?
The Andantes were Motown’s in-house female backing group.
Made up of Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow and Louvain Demps, the group formed in 1958. They began recording on Motown singles from 1962, when ensemble backing group The Rayber Voices disbanded. They have featured on endless amounts of Motown songs (an estimated 20,000 recording sessions apparently) throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s as backing singers. Sometimes their vocals were used to improve (or sometimes outright replace) the vocals of the real artist.
In 1963, they released a single with The Marvelettes (“Too Hurt to Cry, Too Much In Love To Say Goodbye”) credited to The Darnells. The group released one single as The Andantes (“Like A Nightmare”) in 1964 but none of the actual Andantes are featured on lead (?!), as future Marvelette Ann Bogan is instead. The group also featured on several non-Motown recordings, notably Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher)” and “Whispers (Getting Louder)”.
They disbanded in 1973, after Motown relocated to California.
The group signed with Ian Levine’s Motorcity Records in 1989, again providing backing vocals. Pat Lewis (who had subsituted for Louvain Demps on several occasions, notably on “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me”) joined them as well. Ian also recorded solo material (good on you, Ian!) with both Pat Lewis and Louvain Demps.
- Jackie Hicks (1958-73, 1989-92)
- Marlene Barrow (1958-73, 1989-92)
- Louvain Demps (1958-73, 1989-92)
- Pat Lewis (1989-92)
Here are (at least) all the songs on Marvellous Motown that they have featured in:
- BABY, I NEED YOUR LOVING by The Four Tops
- I CANT HELP MYSELF (SUGAR PIE, HONEY BUNCH) by The Four Tops
- IT’S THE SAME OLD SONG by The Four Tops
- SOMETHING ABOUT YOU by The Four Tops
- REACH OUT, I’LL BE THERE by The Four Tops
- YOU KEEP RUNNING AWAY by The Four Tops
- IN AND OUT OF LOVE by The Supremes
- LOVE CHILD by The Supremes
- THE COMPOSER by The Supremes
- JIMMY MACK by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
- BLESS YOU by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
- I’LL KEEP HOLDING ON by The Marvelettes
- THE HUNTER GETS CAPTURED BY THE GAME by The Marvelettes
- HOW SWEET IT IS (TO BE LOVED BY YOU) by Marvin Gaye
- AIN’T THAT PECULIAR? by Marvin Gaye
- I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE by Marvin Gaye
- TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT MY BABY by Marvin Gaye
- THAT’S THE WAY LOVE IS by Marvin Gaye
- TWO CAN HAVE A PARTY by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell