Wanda Young, one of the original members of Motown group the Marvelettes, died earlier this month from complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. That comes from Deadline, which says the news was confirmed by the singer’s daughter. Young was 78.
Though not originally a member of the Marvels, the group that would become the Marvelettes after signing with Motown, Young was invited to audition for an opening in the group by founder Gladys Horton—who happened to Young’s high school classmate. She passed the audition and joined the Marvelettes, singing back-up vocals on debut hit “Please Mr. Postman” and lead on the single’s B-side, “So Long, Baby,” in 1961.
Young primarily performed back-up vocals or co-lead on Marvelettes songs, with her first solo lead single being 1964's “You’re My Remedy.” A year later, she sang lead on “I’ll Keep Holding On,” a comeback single of sorts that put the group higher up on the charts than they had been in a while and giving Young a more prominent position in the Marvelettes. She sang lead on follow-up hits “Don’t Mess With Bill,” “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game,” and “My Baby Must Be A Magician,” which were written by Smokey Robinson.
The Marvelettes broke up at the end of ‘60s and Young briefly held a solo career, recording an album with Robinson that was marketed as a final Marvelettes album but failed to live up to prior hits. She largely left the music industry altogether a few years later, popping up in the ‘80s and ‘90s for a few songs and performances, occasionally with Gladys Horton and other former Marvelettes, but never as a full-time musical artist like in the ‘60s when the Marvelettes were at their height.
Deadline notes that Young is survived by three children, “several grandchildren,” and one great-grandchild.