Wanda Young, member of The Marvelettes, dead at 78

Wanda Young, a singer with the 1960s Motown group The Marvelettes, whose 1961 hit “Please Mr. Postman” was a No. 1 hit, died Dec. 15. She was 78.

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Young died in Garden City, Michigan, her daughter, Meta Ventress, told The New York Times. The cause of death was complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the newspaper reported.

“We are so saddened by the news of Wanda Young of the Marvelettes passing,” Motown said in a statement posted to Twitter on Dec 17. “What an impact she has had on the world of Classic Motown and the lives of so many. Her legacy will continue to live on.”

Born in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan, Young joined The Marvelettes in 1961 after being brought in by her high school classmates, Gladys Horton and Georgia Dobbins, Billboard reported. Young replaced Dobbins, who left the group to take care of her ill mother and because her father did not want her involved in the music business, the website reported.

The Marvelettes signed a deal with Motown the same year as two other all-female groups, the Supremes and a year before Martha and the Vandellas, the Times reported.

Robbins, who died in 2020, co-wrote but did not sing on “Please Mr. Postman,” the group’s debut record, according to Rolling Stone. Young provided background vocals and also sang on the group’s early 1960s hits like “Beechwood 4-5789″ and “Playboy.”

Young married The Miracles singer Bobby Rogers in 1963, taking on his last name, Billboard reported.

Young became the group’s lead singer in 1965 on songs like “I’ll Keep Holding On,” which peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard chart; “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” which topped out at No. 13 in 1967; and “My Baby Must Be a Magician,” which hit No. 17 in 1968. She also sang lead on “Don’t Mess With Bill.”

“Wanda had this little voice that was sexy to me, a little country kind of voice,” Smokey Robinson was quoted on the liner notes to the 1993 Marvelettes compilation, “Deliver: The Singles (1961-1971),” the Times reported. “I knew if I could get a song to her, it would be a smash.”

The Marvelettes officially disbanded in 1971 but reunited briefly in 1989, Rolling Stone reported.

In 2013, the group -- which included Horton, Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman and Young -- was nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Detroit News reported.

Young’s 12-year marriage to Rogers ended in 1975, the Times reported. They had two children, Robert III and Bobbae Rogers, who survive her, along with Ventress, her daughter from another relationship; seven grandchildren; a great-grandson; four sisters; and four brothers. Another daughter, Miracle Rogers, was killed in 2015, according to the newspaper.

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