The Blackberries were Motown’s California-based backing group.
The group was made up of singers Sherlie Matthews, Venetta Fields and Clydie King. As well as cutting some of their own solo material (throughout their careers), they were all backing vocalists and together provided backing vocals for all sorts of artists, even some signed to Motown (e.g. Diana Ross & The Supremes and Stevie Wonder). Sherlie Matthews had been introduced to Motown in 1964 by friend Frank Wilson, and she was signed to the label as a singer-songwriter soon after. Around 1970, Sherlie, Venetta and Clydie decided to form their own vocal group, The Blackberries, and record for Motown.
Motown had set up its MoWest offices around the West Coast in 1971, and eventually moved its whole headquarters to California in 1972. The Blackberries provided backing vocals for artists recording in Motown’s California studios around this period. They even recorded enough of their own material for an entire album that was never released, and had one single planned for release that was pulled from the schedule (“Somebody Up There”).
When The Blackberries left Motown for A&M in 1973, Sherlie Matthews did not follow and was replaced by Billie Barnum. There the group released two singles, “Twist and Shout” (1973) and “Yesterday’s Music” (1974). They ceased recording together shortly after.
- COMING SOON!
- Sherlie Matthews (1971-73)
- Venetta Fields (1971-74)
- Clydie King (1971-74)
- Billie Barnum (1973-74)