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The Marvelettes in a 1963 promotional photo. Clockwise from top left, Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, and Wanda Young
|Birth name||Wanda Young|
August 9, 1943 |
Inkster, Michigan, United States
|Genres||Doo-wop, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, pop|
|Associated acts||The Marvelettes, The Casinyets, The Marvels, The Darnells|
Wanda was born and raised in the western Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan. Originally aspiring to be a nurse, Young's professional music career started after fellow Inkster High School classmate Gladys Horton asked her to audition for a spot left by original Marvels member Georgia Dobbins. After a successful audition, Young joined the group and the quintet, which had auditioned for a deal with Motown earlier, returned with a song written by Dobbins titled "Please Mr. Postman". Impressed with the group's sound, they were immediately signed and had their name changed to the Marvelettes and after the song was remastered, the song was released and became Motown's first #1 Pop single in late 1961—it also held the top slot for seven weeks on Billboard's R&B chart. Young sang lead on the B-side of the single on a ballad titled "So Long, Baby".
While Wanda did occasionally sing leads on Marvelettes' album cuts, Gladys was the main vocalist of the group for singles. Wanda, however, did sing co-lead on Marvelettes' songs, including singles "Locking Up My Heart" and "Too Many Fish in the Sea". In 1964, she sang her first (solo) lead on a Marvelettes' single, "You're My Remedy", which didn't translate as successfully to sales or charts figures. The first hit single to feature her on lead was the dance hit, "I'll Keep Holding On". From then on until the Marvelettes' departure, Young would be the main lead vocalist of the group. She went on to sing lead on several classics such as "Don't Mess with Bill" (a million-selling gold 45) "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game", "When You're Young and in Love" and "My Baby Must Be a Magician". On December 18, 1963, she married her longtime boyfriend Bobby Rogers, a member of the Miracles, in Detroit and became known professionally as Wanda Rogers. The Marvelettes' hit making days had waned by the end of the 1960s and in 1970 the group disbanded. In 1970, Wanda recorded a solo album with Smokey Robinson serving as her producer. Sensing marketing value as a Marvelettes release, Motown released the album as The Return of the Marvelettes. The other Marvelettes refused to participate for the album cover and the album flopped. Wanda Young left the label in 1972 when the Motown label relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles. Wanda and Bobby were divorced in 1975 after 12 years of marriage.
In 1975, the Carpenters remake of "Please Mr. Postman" hit #1 around the world and was one of a dozen million-selling Gold-certified singles for the duo in the United States. It was also the second song to ever hit #1 by two different artists.
Wanda was involved with many years of substance abuse and alcoholism following the Marvelettes' departure, largely due to witnessing the shooting death of her sister at the Young family's Inkster residence. She re-emerged in the late 1980s after accepting an offer from Motorcity Records' Ian Levine to record new songs and revised versions of her classics with the Marvelettes. She made a brief return to performing in the early 1990s but without Marvelettes members Gladys Horton and Katherine Anderson. Katherine retired from show business after the Marvelettes' breakup though both Horton and Young collaborated on a Marvelettes recording for Motorcity Records. Young wasn't featured on the album cover although Horton was.
As of 2016, Wanda lives with her daughter in the Detroit suburb of Westland, Michigan. Her divorce from Bobby Rogers was finalized in 1975 - although they had been separated for some time. He died in 2013. Wanda attended his memorial service.
One of Young's daughters, Miracle, who was born in early 1980s, was shot dead in her home in Inkster in early 2015. According with relatives, Miracle carried Young's marriage surname "Rogers" during all her life, although she was not Bobby Rogers' daughter. At the time of Miracle's birth, Young was still in battle with drugs and alcohol, and also suffering for mental issues. Young's sister adopted Miracle when she was a toddler and raised her.
In 2002, Kanye West sampled Young's version of the Miracles' "After All" for Jay-Z's rap duet, "Poppin' Tags" from The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse album, which featured Killer Mike, Big Boi and Twista.
The Marvelettes were nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013 and again 2015.