Velvelettes’ Co-Founder Bertha McNeal Dies at 82


Bertha Barbee-McNeal, mostly known as the singer and co-founder of Motown’s The Velvelettes, lost her battle with colon cancer and sadly passed away on Thursday the 15th of December in Michigan.

People from the industry and outside remembered McNeal and honored her legacy. Among those who shared their condolence messages was Cal Gill Street, The Velvelettes’ lead singer, who admitted, “She was an angel. I’ve lost my dearest friend. She was the group historian, and the glue that kept us together.”

The Motown Historical Museum also released a statement about McNeal, calling her “a community leader and educator.” The Michigan recording studio said, “Bertha’s passion was to inspire young girls, particularly the next generation of female talent.”

Working closely with the producer, Norman Whitfield, McNeal’s Motown group, The Velvelettes, hit the charts with popular songs like “Needle in a Haystack” and “He Was Really Saying Something.” 

The American girl group inspired future generations and artists with their singles from Bananarama to Amy Winehouse, who had confessed that one of her biggest hits “Back to Black” was highly influenced by The Velvelettes.