Marva Hicks, the singer and actor who made her Broadway debut in 1981’s Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music and most recently appeared in 2013’s Motown: The Musical, died September 16 in New York City.
Her death was announced by her family. Neither a cause of death nor Hicks’ age were disclosed. “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our dear Marva Hicks Taha,” her family said in a statement. “Our beloved wife, family member and friend will be greatly missed and remains marvelous in our hearts forever. The love she had for her husband, family, friends and entertainment community knew no bounds. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love. Thank you for your compassion and prayers.”
As a recording artist, Hicks had a hit single in 1991 with “Never Been In Love Before.” The record peaked at number seven on the R&B charts in 1991 and was included on her self-titled Polydor debut. During her career, she also sang with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
Her turn in Motown: The Musical reminded audiences of the power of her acting skills. Penned and curated by Berry Gordy, the man who gave birth to the label in 1959, Motown: The Musical tells his story and covers the highs and lows of his legendary label through its first 25 years.
We begin with Gordy proving to be a stubborn kind of fellow, refusing to attend Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, the 1983 television special, as he feels unappreciated by those he chaperoned to fame. What follows is a journey through the history of label, as seen through Gordy’s eyes.
From humble beginnings, Gordy dreams to make a difference in the world, like his hero Joe Louis, the African-American professional boxer who defeated Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1938. We see Gordy’s relationships, both professional and personal, blossom and fluctuate over time, and we witness the rising success of Motown stars, following them from Detroit to LA, and across the pond to the UK, Paris and beyond. In the Broadway musical, Hicks plays both Berry Gordy’s sister Esther, and Stevie Wonder’s mother Lula, in addition to singing the Gladys Knight song.
She is survived by husband Akwasi Taha and other family members.