[image_lightbox url=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Martha-Reeve-Online-Photo.jpg” title=”Martha Reeves” align=”left”]Martha Reeves[/image_lightbox]The foundation of my career began in the Detroit Public Schools, at Russell Elementary in the fifth grade. A few minutes before the end-of-day bell, class would stop and my teacher would ask me to sing. Because I enjoyed it and because I could remember the lyrics of the songs taught at school, she would feature me. It was my first solo experience.

At Northeastern High school, I was one of about 30 girls in the Glee Club. When, Mr. Abraham Silver had auditions for the soprano lead, I was chosen to sing it four times. That proved to be vital experience. The first time, we were the first public school class to sing on the radio in a live broadcast.

The second time was at a spring concert. The third was at big show at Ford Auditorium for 4,500 people. And finally, I sang at Northeastern’s graduation ceremony. That’s what gave me real aspirations to be a professional performer. It showed me that I could sing in front of large audiences.

Several years ago, I found out that many Detroit schools cut out music programs, along with sports. If that continues, it will be a disadvantage to the students. Students need the outlet to be themselves and learn how to work together. It’s important to give children something else to be interested in other than computers and to have real interactions with other students from different walks of life.

Had I not had the access to performing arts experience in school by the teachers who could show me how to express myself and help develop and discover my talent, I’m not sure what would have happened. I’m from meager means and a large family. My father worked for the City of Detroit. My mom had her hands full with the 12 of us. They worked very hard as a team for 47 years. As a community, we need to provide funding and scholarships to help families like this.

It’s important to remember that the bulk of Motown’s artists were Detroit Public Schools graduates. We realized while working together at Hitsville USA that we were trained by some of the same teachers. I stayed in touch with Mr. Silver as he continued to help me practice and train as a wonderful supporter well into my career.

I urge the community to come together to support arts programs and help the next generation of Detroit talent, wherever school they are today.