The Marvelettes “Poor Little Rich Girl” (1966, Unreleased. From Cellarful of Motown Volume 1, 2002)
Per tradition, in the middle of the week we switch to our second Gemini Gladys that called out from LPs and 45s from my youth and had me find my own voice. Where Gladys Knight was the fire, Gladys Catherine Horton was the witty, no-nonsense virtual older sister that dispensed life advice I didn’t know I was going to need just yet.
No other singer among 1960’s girl group lead singers did as much “advice column” dispensing of knowledge as Gladys Horton did. For someone that was on the younger side of women singing those 3 minute movies in the early to mid 60’s, she displayed a maturity, knowledge, sense of pride, humor, humility and affection with her listeners that was beyond her years (if not her experience as a orphaned child).
One of the sadder points, as The Marvelettes slid in priority at Motown from 1964 onwards, is that her interpretations of some rather adult material got locked away in the vaults, not seeing single release or an LP up to her marriage and departure from the group in 1967.
There’s some eerie foreboding in this 1966 unreleased track, dealing with a lot of the pressures of fame that all Motown female singers dealt with if they continued performing. The real consequences of pursuing a performing career did level a heavy cost on their personal lives in a number of ways. Perhaps too revealing (and dripping with Gladys’s own emotional weight of nearly 6 years of performing) it perhaps hit far too close to home for Motown to release such a mirror of the cost of fame for so many of their artists.