Don't ever tell Motown legend Martha Reeves that her voice is anything other than soprano.
That was my takeaway after seeing one of the four sold-out shows Reeves performed with the Vandellas at the Dakota. After the late show Friday at the Nicollet Mall jazz club, Reeves sat to autograph CDs. Not far from me was a woman who asked her a question I didn't hear. I heard Reeves' response loud and clear.
"What are you saying?" Reeves said indignantly. "You hear me singing soprano! Somebody get her outta here."
The offending woman had asked "one of the most ironic questions," Reeves said. "She asked me [whether] I sing alto!"
I was at the Dakota as a guest of Twitter's @psychicRuth Lordan, who was trying to introduce me to Reeves while the Alto Lady was irritating the singer.
"OK!" Reeves said cheerfully when told I wrote for the newspaper. In an even, no-nonsense tone, she said, "Tell the world I had a stupid question asked of me. Some people just don't know what to say. I think I sing higher than anybody I know. I sing higher than Patti LaBelle and Marian Anderson and Miriam Makeba."
Not being a stupid person, I didn't dispute any of those comparisons.
I will say that I was surprised by how well Reeves still hit many high notes. Reeves' group was often unfairly considered the more rough-around-the-edges cousins of Diana Ross & the Supremes.
Reeves & these Vandellas (a trio that included her two sisters) performed Motown hits, many written by the inestimable Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team, plus other songs that mean something to Ms. Martha such as "What's Going On?" which was co-written by Marvin Gaye, who also co-wrote Reeves' "Dancing in the Street."
Reeves showed a wild sense of humor, commenting that a woman in the audience wore a dress so uncomfortable it was "about to come off." Imploring a fan to do the boogaloo, Reeves said, "Shake more of yourself! Shake all of it!"
Reeves apologized for not having any money on her after Lordan did an instant reading.
Examining Reeves' hand, Lordan said, "You almost died. This is your life line." Reeves said she had a serious health scare "just last week." When Lordan saw Reeves has had three husbands, Reeves said, "Call the popo! My husbands are missing! I had two guys I married and annulled both of them 'cause I looked in their faces at the altar and said, 'Do you love me?' They said I do but [their faces] said I don't."
Lordan got back on track when she told Reeves that a late relative wanted her to produce a gospel album. "Bless your heart. We are releasing it this month," said Reeves. "It's all live musicians. None of that synthesized mess."
Live Mas pitchman
Taco Bell's new quesalupa is so delicious, Fancy Ray told me, "It made me lick my fingers and the fingers of the person next to me, too."
That's a line "The Best Lookin' Man in Comedy" can use if the regional Super Bowl commercial he did for Taco Bell goes national. A few hours before Panthers QB Cam Newton got his richly deserved comeuppance, a Taco Bell PR person alerted me about the commercial, thus explaining why Fancy Ray hadn't returned two phone calls, unrelated to this news.
The commercial (tinyurl.com/jj5el6y) was shot at Treehouse Records: "It was a parody of a commercial I did at Treehouse three years ago."
Fancy Ray said he was approached by the fast food giant. "There's talk of more happening, but again all I have is today and a very successful spot. Twitter and Facebook blew up; it was getting a lot of views on YouTube. Angela Davis did an interview with me on 'CCO that got great response. Taco Bell is smart. [They know] I can increase sales."
Fancy Ray estimated that he consumed approximately three quesalupas during the shoot. "They actually flew in two food stylists whose jobs were to make the quesalupas for me as I ate them," said Fancy Ray. "It's a delicious treat. If you looked at my body you'd know I take care of myself, but I do enjoy Taco Bell every once in a while."
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9's "Jason Show." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count. Attachments are not opened.