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Legendary Ladies of Motown to Perform at Pepperdine University

Two unmistakable voices that helped define an entire generation of music in America—Mary Wilson of the Supremes and Martha Reeves of the Vandellas—will come together for an evening of Motown favorites at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre on Saturday, October 7, at 8 PM.

Wilson and Reeves reign today as two of Motown’s most beloved singers, with 14 Billboard number one singles, seven Billboard number one albums, and 42 Billboard top 10 singles between them. Together, they bring an entire kaleidoscope of Motown music memories in one rich evening of performance.

It was a vision of musical stardom as a Detroit teen that inspired Wilson—along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard—to found one of the most successful female singing groups in recording history: the Supremes. Since then, Wilson has written a best-selling autobiography, performed on stage and screen, lectured and toured the world, and continues to be looked up to as a singer who set the standard for females in the recording industry.

This past summer, Wilson performed a number of consecutive shows at Feinstein’s at the Regency, New York’s premiere supper club. In her “Mary Wilson: Up Close” show, she wowed audiences with an intimate selection of standards and easy-listening tunes that showcased her smoky voice and vocal prowess.

Throughout her career, Wilson has had the privilege and pleasure of performing all over the world. Royalty requested many of her performances with the Supremes, such as for Britain’s Queen Mother as well as for the King of Sweden. In 2000 Wilson had the prestigious honor of performing at the White House for the Millennium Celebration as well as two inaugural dinners held in President Bush’s honor.

In 1988 the Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, receiving the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, which Wilson personally accepted. Seven years later, the Hall launched an exhibit of the Supremes’ gowns for the museum’s opening in Cleveland, Ohio, entitled The Supremes Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection. Wilson had been personally archiving the gowns for years. The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection, including the Butterfly dresses worn on their 1968 television special, is currently on tour in the United Kingdom.

It has been more than 50 years since Reeves first boarded that rented bus along with the likes of The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and Marvin Gaye on the first Motown Review. She and her backup group, the Vandellas, sang behind Gaye and soon hit the charts with their own trifecta: “Come and Get These Memories,” “Love is Like a Heat Wave,” and “Quicksand.” Over the next decade, Reeves and the Vandellas would be a constant presence on the music charts, as well as on television and top venues across the US and abroad.

Whether performing solo or with the Vandellas, Reeves continues to heat up clubs, concert stages and music festivals, thrilling audiences across the globe, and always leaving them dancing. In 2012 she returned to the Billboard charts with her Top 25 hit, “I'm Not Leaving,” recorded with techno DJ duo The Crystal Method, and returned to the Howard Theatre—site of the very first Motown Revue show—for its grand reopening. She capped 2013 with a 13-city sold-out solo tour of the UK. Her 2014 “Calling Out Around the World Tour” commemorated the 50th anniversary of the release of “Dancing in the Street.” In 2017 she celebrates 50 years of calling for “Jimmy Mack” to come back.

Moving beyond the confines of the concert stage, Reeves starred in a US tour of the Tony-winning Ain’t Misbehavin’, and has performed in road shows of The Jackie Wilson Story and Good Black Don’t Crack. She costarred for three seasons in the UK stage review “Dancing In The Street,” alongside Motown peers like the late Edwin Starr, Mary Wilson, and Freda Payne.

Reeves is the recipient of the Dinah Washington Award, a Rhythm n’ Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, a Black Woman in Publishing Legends Award, and has been inducted in the Alabama, Soul, Rock and Roll, and Vocal Group halls of fame. “Dancing in the Street” has been entered into the Library of Congress Registry of Historical Recordings and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Reeves and the Vandellas are listed among Rolling Stone magazine's “100 Immortal Artists” and she was named one of the “30 Top Lead Singers of all Time.”

This performance is sponsored the Office of Andrew K. Benton, president of Pepperdine University, and The Law Offices of Hiepler & Hiepler.

Ticket prices range between $10 and $70, and are required for attendance. For additional information about the performance, and to purchase tickets, visit the Center for the Arts website.