Brenda Holloway is my most favorite female singer of the Motown Era. I often wondered why she never charted like the rest of the "girl" groups. Berry Gordy and his "interest" in Diana Ross may have played a big part. Or Brenda's refusals to be just Berry's "girl" may have caused it. Most likely that Ms H had a very strong snarky sense of her own purpose, style and obvious singing talent.
Brenda like Mary Wilson (also too pretty for Motown) was pushed aside for Mr. Gordy's personal agendas.Read this fabulous article that tells the entire history of Brenda at Motown.
Brenda Holloway: Too Hot For Motown?
Well Brenda's been called the Most Beautiful Woman Ever Signed to Motown Records and no one's going to argue you that. Brenda Holloway had the beauty, and the voice. But it wasn't her voice that got her signed to Motown.
Berry Gordy happened to be there the night she lip-sync Mary Wells song "My Guy", even though Berry didn't hear her voice, he just had to her have her on his label, and he kind of figured she could sing because she had the emotions and attitude when she sung, plus he found her very attractive, and after that night she had a contract.
Berry showed a lot of interest in Brenda Holloway, groomed her for stardom, in her first time in Detroit, she stayed with various family members of Berry Gordy's. Berry Gordy was looking for another "MARY WELLS", and it certainly look like she could fill Mary Wells shoes.
Now let's talk about the Motown Years. It wasn't her voice that caught Berry Gordy's eye it was the skin-tight gold pantsuit that she filled out, but it was Brenda Holloway's voice that made her Motown's first major Los Angeles discovery.
Brenda had a lot of sex appeal, she was too sexy for Motown, in her live performances she would have the men yelling and screaming, but she was scared sometimes after shows because the women wanted to cut her throat for having their men yelling for her.
Brenda Holloway's looked up to Tina Turner, she didn't want to be like The Supremes, or Kim Weston, or The Vandellas, she wanted to maybe start a new image.
Berry was very much attracted to this youthful beauty, but Brenda put it bluntly that "Either I be your woman or I sing", After that, she said he never pushed me again. Brenda said a lot of the other women singers were jealous of me because I would stay with Gwen, Berry's sister and his parents.
Brenda Holloway yearned for fame and did everything asked of her (with a little back-talk) believing this could be the quickest route to success.
She got reputation for her stage outfits, they would come to see her sing, but mostly to see what she was wearing, onstage she dressed elegantly in shimmering tight-fitting gowns, she put The Supremes to shame, they couldn't copy her outfits.
She toured North America with The Beatles in 1965. However towards her 4 year stay with Motown it became apparent she was being ignored by the Motown offices. She had reverted to a second-class priority because she said "Motown's policy was to build one act at a time or their favorites.
When The Supremes were taking off, the company would pull in records so that The Supremes could go for the million. When I asked why my records were being pulled, Berry just simply said WAIT YOUR TURN, He just kept telling me that.
My records would go out of stock and stores were told to re-order. It was usually at a crucial point when the singles couldn't be got, so they weren't played and didn't go into the charts. I feel Motown really exploited me. For instance, they let The Supremes study my tapes and take songs from me.
Maybe Brenda Holloway wasn't meant for Motown, too hot, too daring, too sexy. Motown couldn't handle her, didn't know what to do with her. Motown of course wanted to keep their good, wholesome image. Brenda is getting her recognition now.
Her music is available in stores and online, the hit songs and the never-heard or released classics that should of became hits. You're in for a treat when you hear some of those classic soul songs. She lives in Los Angeles, California. She still working hard, still a main attraction and she still looks good in gold.