Famed Motown singer Wanda Young died earlier this month at the age of 78, the New York Post reported Sunday.
Young’s daughter, Meta Ventress, confirmed her mother’s passing to The New York Times. Ventress said Young died on Dec. 15 in Garden City, Michigan.
The cause was reported to have been complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD.
Leaving a legacy
Young was known for being the co-lead singer of the well-known Motown group The Marvelettes. However, she was actually not one of the Michigan-based group’s original singers. According to reports, she joined the group after one of the original vocalists dropped out.
Other members included Katherine Anderson and Gladys Horton.
The group produced hits including “I’ll Keep Holding On,” “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” and “Please Mr. Postman,” the latter of which was the first Motown song to top the music charts. Young is particularly well-known for “My Baby Must Be A Magician” and “Don’t Mess With Bill.”
She often worked with Smokey Robinson, who wrote many of the Marvelettes’ best-known songs, reports noted. According to The New York Times, Robinson once said of Young:
Wanda had this little voice that was sexy to me, a little country kind of voice. […] I knew if I could get a song to her, it would be a smash.
Tributes pour in
Following the news of her passing, tributes to Young poured in, including from fellow Motown singers.
Claudette Robinsons, a one-time member of The Miracles, wrote in a tweet that “Wanda was a star on Earth and now she is a star in Heaven,” calling it “[a] very sad day for our @motown family and music fans all over the world.”
“Put on some #Marvelettes and turn it up,” she added.
According to USA Today, the Motown Museum also put out a statement, saying:
Known for her captivating vocals and witty stage presence, Wanda helped The Marvelettes become one of the many success stories at Motown Records.
Motown Museum remembers Wanda Rogers for giving the world a treasure trove of timeless music, and for her trailblazing contributions to Motown Records. We send our condolences to her loved ones and fans around the world.
According to the New York Post, Young is survived by her three children, her brothers and sisters, and her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.