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Berry Gordy, Motown Records And The History Of Black Music

By Joey Etuknwa

No one can talk about “Black music” without mentioning Berry Gordy Jr. When record companies owned by white people were reluctant to sign Black artists in the USA, he founded Motown Records in 1959 and gave Black musicians a platform to show off their great talent.

Gordy carefully controlled the public image, dress, manners, and choreography of his acts to make sure they presented a positive image. He used music to break down racial barriers.

For many decades Motown was the highest-earning African-American business due to the string of hit records the artists released on a regular basis.

Gordy was the one who added “Wonder” to the name of 11-year-old blind boy. The first time he heard the excellent way Stevie played several instruments, he exclaimed, “this boy is a wonder.” The name stuck.

As a songwriter, Gordy wrote many hit songs for The Jackson 5, including “I Want You Back” and “ABC”.

Top artists on the Motown label from the 1960s to the 1980s included

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

The Supremes

Diana Ross

The Four Tops

Jackson 5

Stevie Wonder

Marvin Gaye

The Temptations

The Contours

Edwin Starr

Martha and the Vandellas

The Spinners

Jr. Walker & the All Stars

Jimmy Ruffin

Gladys Knight & the Pips

The Commodores

Lionel Richie

Rick James

Teena Marie

The Dazz Band

Jose Feliciano

DeBarge…and many more

 

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