The Marvelettes in a 1963 promotional photo. Clockwise from top left, Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, and Wanda Young
|Birth name||Katherine Elaine Anderson|
January 16, 1944|
|Genres||Doo wop, Rock 'n' roll, Soul, pop|
|Associated acts||The Marvelettes, The Casinyets, The Marvels, The Darnells|
Katherine Elaine Anderson Schaffner (born January 16, 1944) is an American singer, famed for her tenure in the Motown all-female singing group The Marvelettes. Though not known for any lead spots acquired by Gladys Horton, Wanda Young, or Ann Bogan, Schaffner's role was as notable as she was the only member to survive the group's several incarnations that occurred during the 1960s until breaking up for good in 1970.
Although born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Katherine Anderson was raised in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan, where she developed a fondness for singing in her teens. In 1960, she helped to form a group with fellow high schoolers Gladys Horton, Georgia Dobbins and her friends Juanita Cowart and Georgeanna Tillman.
The group named themselves The Casinyets (can't sing yet) and began performing at local high-schools and basement parties before finally landing an important audition at Motown where, already changing their name to The Marvels, they performed a rendition of a song that Dobbins had co-written called "Please Mr. Postman". It became Motown's first #1 Pop hit. Dobbins left before signing with the label due to her father's strict rules against his daughter performing in nightclubs since all five girls were still underage. Fellow Inkster High class mate Wanda Young eventually replaced her and the group recorded "Please Mr. Postman" in 1961 signing to Motown as The Marvelettes.
Anderson would prominently be featured in the background throughout her tenure in the Marvelettes while Horton and Young each sung lead vocals on the Marvelettes songs. The first departure after Dobbins left occurred in 1962 when Cowart quit due to bad nerves following a goof on American Bandstand where she had referred to Detroit as a suburb of Inkster. Two years later, due to an impending marriage and battles with sickle cell and lupus, Tillman also resigned. In 1968, Gladys Horton left the group citing marriage as the reason for her departure and was replaced by Ann Bogan.
In 1970, the Marvelettes split up with Young trying a solo career that went unsuccessfully after Motown re-marketed the album as a Marvelettes release. According to reports, Motown's CEO Berry Gordy had lost the Marvelettes name during a gambling game while in Las Vegas. Anderson quit show business following the Marvelettes' departure. When Gladys Horton wanted to reform the group, Anderson, who is married to Joe Schaffner, declined to join.
In 1995, the Marvelettes won a Pioneer Award at the R&B Foundation Awards. In 2004, they were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The following year, the Marvelettes classic singles "Please Mr. Postman" and "Don't Mess With Bill" each received belated million-selling Gold certifications by the RIAA.
Of all the original Marvelettes, Katherine is the most active today. Katherine retired from singing when the Marvelettes group disbanded in 1970. She became very involved in helping troubled teenagers in the Detroit area. Katherine ('Kat' to her friends) is the mother of two adult daughters, Keisha and Kalaine Schaffner. She also has a grandson, Toure Schaffner.
She appeared in 2006 to host a play in her hometown of Inkster, Michigan - where she still resides. She was also present at Motown's 50th Anniversary celebration, held at the historic Roostertail nightclub in downtown Detroit (November 21, 2009). In January of 2014 Katherine celebrated her 70th birthday.
Deservedly, The Marvelettes were nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013.