What exactly is a Vandella?

19 May

My wife and I were listening to an FM oldies station over the weekend — lots of great sonic memories from the Golden Age of radio.  

“Dancing in the Streets” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. That was one tune that really tickled the old nostalgia bone (it’s right next to the funny bone). That got us asking ourselves, “What in the hella is a Vandella?” Neither one of us had a clue, so we turned to Wikipedia.

This is what we found:  

Among the Amharic speakers of North Central Ethiopia, a vandella is one of several types of ghost-walking or dream-invading demons/vampires, somewhat similar to a succubus or the vetala of India. Charming, huh? I guess Supremes was already taken and Berry Gordy was in a hurry to get the record out.

They don’t look all that scary, do they?

We also heard a number of one hit wonders … including Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right,” and Spiral Starecase with “More Today Than Yesterday.” The Ides of March with “Vehicle,” “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass,  … I could go on and on. Hey, I was an FM boss jock in the ’80s and many of these songs are seared into my memory banks.

What act is your favorite one-hit wonder? Weigh in here for the world to see.

3 Responses to “What exactly is a Vandella?”

  1. martinj June 6, 2008 at 7:51 pm #

    here’s a classic 1h1

    what’s with that guitar player? looks like he put his dress shirt on over top of a neck brace.

  2. dixiedining June 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    Great tune, Martin — thanks for sending the clip along.

    That guy is in need of a good chiropractor!

  3. JP September 18, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Per Wikipedia – Motown was so impressed by the group’s vocals – and Martha’s lead vocals in the song – that the label CEO Berry Gordy offered to give the group a contract. The remaining trio of Ashford, Beard and Reeves renamed themselves “Martha and the Vandellas” Choosing the name “Vandella” as a mixture of two things – Reeves lived in Detroit on Van Dyke street and Reeves’ idol was Detroit singer Della Reese.The group signed with Motown on September 21, 1962.

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