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The Andantes

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Biography

Like any new business, cash flow problems plagued Motown; Raynoma Liles, aka Miss Ray developed the Rayber Music Writing Company as a remedy. Rayber, a combination of Ray and Berry Gordy's first name, charged anybody who wanted to make a record. They advertised on a local radio station and caught the ear of their first client, Louvain Demps. Raynoma Liles and Berry married. Louvain, along with Jackie Hicks and Marlene Barrow, formed the Andantes, who historians say appeared on more than 20,000 recording sessions. At first they took a back seat to the Rayber Singers, who consisted of Raynoma, Berry, Robert Bateman, Brian Holland, and anyone else hanging around. When running Motown escalated, Louvain took Miss Ray's place in the Rayber Singers, who disbanded around 1962 when the Temptations and the Supremes started doing sessions. The Supremes, as the Primettes, had worked for Lupine Records; at Motown, they're featured on Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Sammy Ward, and Bob Kayli recordings, among others. Kayli was Robert Gordy, Berry's brother; the Supremes sing on Kayli's "Small Sad Sam," a take-off on Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John." The Temptations added excitement to Stevie Wonder's "Contract of Love" and Mary Wells' "Everybody Needs Love," and both sing on Wells' "You Lost The Sweetest Boy." When the Supremes ignited, the Andantes became the number-one studio rats. Like the Funk Brothers -- Motown's rhythm session -- they moonlighted on other labels in Detroit and other cities. They were in Chi-town when Mickey Stevenson needed girls to back Marvin Gaye on "Stubborn Kinda Fellow." Martha Reeves, Stevenson's secretary, called the group, who added magic to Gaye's first hit, and soon broke out on their own. Good background singers are expected to create, which the Andantes did on Mary Wells' "My Guy," Stevie Wonder's "For Once \iIn My Life," and other sessions. They backed Diana Ross on "Love Child," and Martha Reeves on every Martha & the Vandellas' recording after Annette Beard left. Holland-Dozier-Holland used the Andantes to smooth the Marvelettes' infectious but shaky harmony; they also used them on the Four Tops for high end, a technique Thom Bell employed with the Spinners and others in the '70s. Their smooth, quality, chorale sound was so valuable that Motown never gave them a chance to record on their own. A scheduled single, "Like a Nightmare," was never released. Motown didn't want the Andantes out promoting a record when Motown's studios operated around the clock. Ian Levine recorded the Andantes for his Motorcity series. The tracks include a remake of the Fascinations' "Girls Are Out to Get You," as well as "Two Sides to Love," "Hurricane," "Lightening Never Strikes Twice," and a new "Like a Nightmare." Levine also recorded Louvain solo. They accompanied Kim Weston on "Just Loving You," on The Motortown Revue Live, Vol. 2. Louvain's brother, Larry "Squirrel" Demps, sang with the Dramatics. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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