Motown legend Martha Reeves visits Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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CLEVELAND -- The looming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is bringing all the stars to Cleveland ahead of the big day for Rock Week. That includes a Motown legend.

Martha Reeves, of Martha and the Vandellas, a 1995 inductee, says her song, "Dancing in the Street," not only inspired people to dance but served as an unintentional rallying call during the fight for equal rights in the 1960s.

"Somebody may have taken it to be part of the civil rights movement but we were in the middle of the civil rights movement," said Reeves. "We were at the Fox theater in Detroit when the riots broke out. A lot of it is politics, some of the lyrics, but we were writing from our hearts and filling in the gaps."

Writing music of the time resonates with people still, who stand in awe looking at memorabilia of the days when musicians played the legendary hits many artists sample today. For Reeves, one of her biggest hits happened by chance.

"He's [Marvin Gaye] singing, 'Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat? Baby, summer's here,' in the Marvin Gaye way," recalls Reeves, singing the way Gaye originally intended for the song to sound. "He could sing the Star Spangled Banner and make the girls go, 'ah' with his style of singing -- so soulful. I'm standing there googling, looking at him, saying, 'My, he's so fine.' Then he looks at me and says, 'Hey man, let's try this on Martha.'"

Reeves says she recorded the song in one take, but to her surprise the engineer forgot to press record. She attributes the passion in her voice to initial anger about the second take.

"I've been dancing in the street now for almost 60 years," said Reeves with a smile.

Reeves is in Cleveland for a sold-out panel discussion at the Rock Hall about the museum's inception and its impact on Cleveland.

She says the museum continues to grow and impress her with each visit and she is honored to see the music she loves always has a home at the Rock Hall.

"That's what's close to my heart -- that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame remembers the great works of the people of the past whose shoulders we stand on, and it's amazing."

Read much more on the upcoming induction ceremony.

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