the-andantesJust like The Funk Brothers, The Andantes were a ghostly uncredited Motown band… until recently. There were especially talented, hard-working and, in the end, a hit factory, but they did not enjoy the glory and fame of their fellow Motown artists.

In March 2013, the exhibit “Motown Girl Groups: The Grit, the Glamour, the Glory” at the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit finally featured The Andantes alongside The Supremes, Vandellas, Marvelettes and Velvelettes.

The Andantes were a female sessions group for the Motown record label during the 1960s. Composed of Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow and Louvain Demps, the group sang background vocals on numerous Motown recordings, including songs by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, Jimmy Ruffin, Edwin Starr, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, among others. Marlene Barrow also substituted for Florence Ballard of The Supremes in concert on several occasions.

The Andantes provided back-up singing on Motown singles starting in 1962. The group was most prominently used on all of the Four Tops’ Holland–Dozier–Holland-produced hits, including “Baby I Need Your Loving”, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, and more. The Andantes were used as vocal substitutes for Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong on many of The Supremes’ recordings done in 1968 and 1969. They were also called upon to overdub and smooth out The Marvelettes’ background vocals records beginning in 1965 and replaced them completely in the studio by 1967. The final Marvelettes album, The Return of The Marvelettes, was recorded by Marvelette Wanda Young with the Andantes, not her groupmates, on backgrounds.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, The Andantes appeared as backing vocalists on many of Motown’s recorded singles, as The Funk Brothers also had when providing instrumentation. Five of these singles that they provided background vocals for would go on to chart at the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 popular music chart.

Chart-topping Hits:

  • “My Guy” – Mary Wells
  • “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” – Four Tops
  • “Reach Out I’ll Be There” – Four Tops
  • “Love Child” – Diana Ross & The Supremes
  • “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye

List of The Andantes hits 



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