Wanda Young Dies: The Marvelettes Singer Was 78

The Marvelettes (Credit: James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/GI)

The image above shows The Marvelettes (L-R Katherine Anderson, Wanda Young and Gladys Horton) and is courtesy of James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/GI.

Wanda Young, one of the members of chart-topping Motown group The Marvelettes has died. She was 78.

Young passed away in Detroit on Dec. 15, from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, her daughter Meta Ventress told The New York Times on Saturday.

In 1961, Motown leader Berry Gordy agreed to sign a group of teenage girls if they could bring an original song to the label. The girls, who called themselves the Casinyets, brought an early version of “Please Mr. Postman.”

Motown writers polished the song and Gordy renamed the group The Marvelettes. The group was initially made up of high school students Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgia Dobbins, Gladys Horton, and Georgeanna Tillman. The girls brought in Wanda Young to replace Dobbins, who left for family reasons. The group’s first single “Please Mr. Postman” became Motown’s first #1 pop hit.

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The group’s other hits included “My Baby Must Be A Magician,” “Twistin’ Postman,” “Playboy,” and “Don’t Mess With Bill,” which featured Young on lead vocals.

The Motown Museum credits The Marvelettes with setting the label up for success.

Billboard ranked “Please Mr. Postman” #22 on its list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time. In 2013, The Marvelettes were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

Young was born in Inkster, Michigan outside of Detroit. She is survived by three children, seven grandchildren, a great-grandson; four sisters and four brothers.