Look out your window. Can you see me dancing in the street to the soulful, classic sound of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas? Oh yes I am, because the Virginia Symphony Orchestra is showcasing my favorite music in the world. The VSO will join with conductor Gonzalo Farias. on Friday, November 23 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk and Saturday, November 24 at Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News to present “Dancing in the Street – The Music of Motown”.
“Dancing in the Street” was written by the one and only Marvin Gaye, made famous in 1964 by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, recorded in Studio A at Hitsville, U.S.A. in my hometown of Detroit, aka Motown, aka The Motor City. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJtiTsetlvU
I was a geeky, glasses wearing, teen in 1964. Motown played on my little blue transistor radio from the time I came home from school until the time I went to bed. I liked the Beatles, but I loved Motown. My girlfriend, Kris Gulfelt, and I would watch Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and study the perfectly choreographed dance moves of Martha and the Vandellas, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and The Four Tops. We knew the words to every song.
These were our hometown heroes. Berry Gordy Jr. had the bright idea of starting a little recording studio in an old home on West Grand Blvd. in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit in 1959. He looked for talent in the streets of Detroit and he found lots of it. Hit after hit came out of Motown Records.
“Dancing in the Street – The Music of Motown” will be conducted by Gonzalo Farias, the new(ish) assistant conductor of the VSO. Farias, a native of Chile, began his duties with the symphony this summer. He held a conducting fellowship position with the Baltimore Symphony and is the former music director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra.
The VSO will make beautiful music, as they always do. Added to that music will be the soulful vocals of three talented artists, Chester Gregory, Michael Lynche, and Celisse Henderson.
Chester Gregory has starred on Broadway as Berry Gordy in “Motown the Musical.” He has toured nationally with “Dreamgirls” and “Sister Act”. Motown music is in his soul and in his voice.
Michael Lynche might be a familiar name to fans of American Idol. He was a finalist on season nine. Known to his fans as “Big Mike”, he blends “classic R&B, thoroughly modern urban grooves, and swoon-worthy vintage soul into a fresh, unique sound.”
Celisse Henderson will represent all the great female performers of Motown. She is a singer, songwriter, plays multiple instruments and is a spoken word artist. She has performed with Mariah Carey and Kesha. Her voice is “soulful, hard-rocking and blues-tinged.”
The musicians, the conductor and the vocalists of the VSO will join together to perform so many of the classic Motown hits – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, “Dancing In The Street”, “I Heard it Through The Grapevine”, “My Girl”, “Superstition” and many more. The vocalists will channel all the great Motown artists like Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, The Temptations and the one and only Stevie Wonder.
I can hardly wait. The transistor radio is long gone, but I can ask Alexa to play Motown and I’ll go do a little dancing in the streets.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to –