- Caryn E. Neumann
to Ann (maiden name unknown) and Roger Beard. She grew up singing in church choirs and at age fourteen impressed Edward “Pops” Larkins, who sought a female group to complement a male group that he had already signed. As the Del-Phis, Beard, a contralto, sang backup with friend Rosalind Ashford, a soprano, while Gloria Williams sang lead. The subordinate position suited the shy Beard. Martha Reeves joined the group in 1960. They performed around Detroit for benefits and private parties. The Del-Phis cut two singles backing male leads on Kable, a minor Detroit label in 1960, and the following year recorded “I’ll Let You Know” on Check-Mate, a subsidiary of the famed Chess Records, with Williams as lead. That same year Beard graduated from Detroit’s Southeastern High School.
Musical success for Beard came through Reeves Motown Records Artists and Repertoire A R director Mickey Stevenson asked Reeves ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.