Bertha Barbee McNeal Passed Away At The Age Of 82

Bertha Barbee McNeal, the co-founder of the singing female group The Velvelettes, died of colon cancer on December 15 at the age of 82. She was in the hospital at the time of her death. The announcement comes five months after the group’s performance at Arcadia Creek. Another member of the group, Carolyn Gill, paid homage to Bertha by saying:

“I never heard her use profanity or talk badly of anybody, even when she was unhappy. She’d go above that, like an angel on Earth. She was the glue that held the group together and protected us from suffocating.”

Bertha Barbee McNeal’s medical history is unclear, thus no more information regarding her cancer is available. Details about her funeral will be announced shortly.

The Velvelettes were created in 1961 by Bertha Barbee McNeal.

Bertha Barbee McNeal was reared in Flint, Michigan, and came from a musical family, according to the limited information known about her early life. Bertha, Annette McMillan, Sandra Tilley, and Betty Kelly were the initial members of The Velvelettes, which she founded in 1961. The next year, they signed up with Motown Records and released many songs. They were finally recognized for their single, Needle in the Haystack. The song topped the Billboard charts, and the band continued on their prosperous path until Betty left after just three years. The members underwent various changes over the following several years, and the original three chose to take a short hiatus in the middle.

Bertha Barbee McNeal

Although they began production on an album, it was put on hold owing to the success of other bands. Despite not being as economically successful as their prior efforts, the trio proceeded to produce additional singles. Throughout their remarkable existence, the group only issued one album, One Door Closes, in 1990. The CD included a combination of new and classic music. In 1966, a self-titled album was set for release, however, it was never published.

From 1999 through 2004, they issued three compilation albums: The Very Best of the Velvelettes, The Velvelettes: The Best Of, and The Velvelettes: The Motown Anthology. From 1963 until 1992, the Velvelettes issued 10 singles, including There He Goes, Needle in a Haystack, A Bird in the Hand, Running Out of Lick, It Keeps Reminding Me, and others. They were well-known for their 1964 hit, He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’. It peaked at number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 21 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. Bananarama, Buffalo G, and Shakespeare Sister have released renditions of the song.

Bertha Barbee McNeal

The Velvelettes were well recognized for their 1966 hit, These Things Will Keep Me Loving You, which topped the US Billboard Hot 100, US Billboard R&B Singles, and UK Singles Chart. Carolyn Gill, Mildred Gill, and Norma Barbee are the current members of the ensemble. Bertha Barbee McNeal’s two children, Marty and Melva, are among her surviving.

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