Marva Whitney made her nightclub debut in 1963 at Gates Bar-B-Q proprietor Ollie Gates' O.G.'s at 31st and Indiana. She caught Tommy Gadson's eye at a talent show and was soon using her holy spirit-primed piped at the front of the city's roughest R&B act . Her "Marvelous" prefix was tacked on not much later, as A.B.A had Marva and the Derby's racehorsing around the country for the next few years. With James Brown scheduled to play in KC in late '66, Cooper arranged an audition via Brown's agent Ben Bart, but a riot broke out at the concert prior to the meeting and the Brown/Whitney pairing was put on hold until the following spring. A concert at Memorial Hall in April 1967 returned him to Kansas City, though he'd need to replace the recently departed vocalist Vicki Anderson. In mere hours, Marva Whitney found herself on a plane to Cincinnati to cut her first 45, with Brown in the producers seat.