Bertha Barbee McNeal Wiki – Bertha Barbee McNeal Bio
Bertha Barbee McNeal, the co-founder of Motown’s The Velvetettes, has died of colon cancer. She was a member of one of Motown’s biggest early acts and then went on to pursue a career helping other musicians find their voices.
McNeal was raised in Flint, Michigan, where she excelled on the piano and organ as a child. She attended Western Michigan University’s music program in Kalamazoo because of her passion for music. While there, Mildred Gill’s sister Carolyn, her friend Betty Kelly and Bertha’s cousin Norma Barbee joined Barbee-McNeal and Mildred Gill in establishing The Velvelettes. Robert Bullock, the nephew of Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr., who signed the group in 1962, heard them sing on campus.
In 1963, The Velvetettes put out several tracks on the label, but none of them were radio-friendly. But the trio caught a breather in 1964 when up-and-coming songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield landed a job with them. Their cooperation produced “Needle In A Haystack”, which became their anthem and a Billboard chart hit. Before disbanding in 1967, they had the passable hits “She Was Saying Something,” “Lonely, Lonely Girl Am I,” and “These Things Will Keep Me Loving You.” In the late 1980s, they got back together for a brief time to record some songs for Ian Levine’s Motorcity label.
Bertha Barbee McNeal was 82 years old.
Motown singer Bertha Barbee McNeal of The Velvetettes passes away
McNeal passed away from colon cancer. After her colon cancer spread, McNeal, 82, spent a few weeks in hospice. In July, he gave his last performance with The Velvetettes in Kalamazoo. We announce the passing of Motown alumnus Bertha Barbee, She was a founding member of the Motown group The Velvelettes, according to a statement from the Motown Museum.
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