What was the most popular all-girl vocal group ever to perform for Motown Records? Most of you will probably say The Supremes. If you use record sales as a gauge, you’re probably right. However, for those of us who were around a little earlier, we cannot forget The Marvelettes, a group of who had their first hit in 1961, followed by a string of memorable hits. I remember songs like Please Mr. Postman, Beechwood 4-57-89, and Don’t Mess with Bill, to name a few.
A few days ago, I watched the story of the Marvelettes on Unsung, a weekly TV series showcasing musical talent who never got the full recognition they deserved when they performed. One of the major reasons was because there were no shows like American Bandstand or Soul Train to bring them into our homes. In fact, I also learned through Unsung that black faces were not allowed on album covers during the time The Marvelettes sang.
While I admired the talents of these soulful sisters, I had no idea that they had so many personal struggles along the way. The group began with five singers, then four, the three, then to two, and finally to one, who tried to carry on the legacy when their season was over. An early lead singer had to leave the group when the demands of road life, coupled with sickle-cell anemia and lupus threatened her life. Another lead singer became a drug addict and could not fulfill many of her engagements. When the group finally disbanded, copycat groups tried to capitalize off their notoriety. In fact, the remaining true singer was sued for trying to use her own trade name. What a story!
You might ask, “What does their story have to do with writing about my life?” The answer is everything! When you tell your story, it would be very easy to leave out certain events that aren’t easy to talk about. But that would not be your true story. If you’re writing about one key event in your life and you decide to omit a difficult part of that event, your story will not be complete. If you’re writing about a sequence of events over a longer period of time and you purposely leave out a significant part of your story, your memoir is incomplete. Often the events which you’d rather not disclose are those which touch the issues of readers.
When I discovered the painful past of the members of one of my all-time favorite singing groups, I gained a new appreciation for them. I understood that success has an underlying story. And that story is not complete until the rug is turned over. That’s when we can see and appreciate all the knots and frayed edges which make up a priceless heirloom. If you’ve ventured out into deep water in your writing, fear will come from time to time. That’s inevitable. Just remember that God will not take you somewhere He cannot sustain you.
Spending time in prayer while writing your story will take you to new places in Him! And isn’t that a wonderful fringe benefit! Keep going! You’re almost there!