MOTOWN legend Bertha Barbee McNeal has died after a battle with colon cancer.
The music star, who was part of the hit group The Velvelettes, died Thursday in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
McNeal, 82, was in a hospice for several weeks after her colon cancer progressed.
She last performed with The Velvelettes in Kalamazoo in July.
Lead singer Cal Gill Street told the Detroit Press that McNeal was an “angel”.
She told the outlet: “I’ve lost my dearest friend. Bertie was a valuable woman.
“I’ve never heard anything obscene, I’ve never heard her speak ill of anyone, even when she was upset.
“She would get over it like an angel here on earth. In the group, she was the glue that kept us from suffocating.”
The Motown Museum said, “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Motown graduate Ms. Bertha Barbee-McNeal, a founding member of the Motown group The Velvelettes.”
Fans have paid tribute to McNeal after her death.
One said: “Grateful for her contributions to the Motown sound and family. loved their music. May God rest her soul!
“Condolences to the family and closest friends.”
Another commented, “The Velvelettes were one of the most underrated groups at Motown. They had some great songs!”
And a third said: “That’s a shame RIP! I only played Needle In A Haystack a few years ago.”
The Velvelettes are best known for their hit song “Needle in a Haystack,” which reached #45 on the Billboard Hot 100.
They were also behind the 1963 track There He Goes and the 1965 hit He Was Really Sayin’ Something.
British hit group Bananarama covered their track “He Was Really Sayin’ Something” in 1983.
McNeal is survived by her daughter, son, granddaughter, and grandson.
https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/6945936/bertha-barbee-mcneal-dead-motown-the-velvelettes/ Bertha Barbee McNeal dead at 82 – The Velvelettes singer and Motown icon dies after a battle with cancer while bandmates pay tribute