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Berry Gordy Jr. b. 1929 in Detroit His parents came to Detroit from Georgia in 1922 His grandfather was the son of James Thomas Gordy, a white farmer, his grandmother was a slave working in Georgia. His grandfather was also the great-grandfather of James Earl Carter, Jr., the 39th President of the United States, making Berry Gordy III and Jimmy Carter second half-cousins.
Whilst Berry's siblings were respected members of the Black community in Detroit, Berry, dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to become a professional boxer, a profession he pursued until 1950. Gordy with Smokey Robinson Around 1953 he began composing music, writing songs and opening the 3-D Record Mart, a jazz music store. He later left the store and began work at the Lincoln-Mercury plant. He then met the owner of the Flame Show Bar talent club, where he met singer Jackie Wilson. In 1957, Jackie recorded 'Reet Petite', a song Gordy had co-written with his sister Gwen and writer-producer Billy Davis.
The Flame Show Bar opened in 1949 and was located at the corner of John R and Canfield. The Flame was the showplace for top Black talent in Detroit during the 50s. Billie Holiday, T-Bone Walker, Wynonie Harris were a few of the many great black entertainers that appeared there. The Berrys were in charge of the photo concessions at the Flame. Sisters Gwen and Anna took the photos with brothers George and Robert developing the film. It was during this time the Al Green the club's owner invited Gordy to write songs for the artists he managed which included Jackie Wilson. Berry teaming with Roquel "Billy" Davis began writing at Green's office. Berry would eventually bring sister Gwen in and the trio would write several bestsellers „To Be Loved," "Lonely Teardrops," "That's Why (I Love You So)" and "I'll Be Satisfied" establishing themselves as hit writers. At this time Gordy started doing some of the producing.
Berry married married Thelma Coleman and quickly had three children. It was after the closing of the record store that Gordy went to work on the assembly line at Ford's Lincoln-Mercury plant.
the set of the Flame Show Berry met Raynoma Liles whom he married soon.
Through his songwriting connections in 1957, he discovered The Miracles (originally known as The Matadors) and began constructing a roster of potential recording artists. In 1959, using an $800 loan from his family, Berry Gordy formed the first incarnation of his legendary label Tamla Records, which produced Mary Johnson's first hit, entitled 'Come To Me‘ in January 1959 . First release with an actual Motown label: "My Beloved," The Satintones (Motown 1000), February 1960
made a decision to keep it in Detroit rather than move to a music business hub like New York or Chicago .Gordy started his company with the most primitive of recording equipment and facilities and a bare-bones staff of mostly family. His father did the plastering and repairs, and his sister did the bookkeeping. The vocal studio was in the hallway, and his echo chamber was the downstairs bathroom. “We had to post a guard outside the door,” Gordy says, "to make sure no one flushed the toilet while we were recording.
First hedquoters of Gordy’s record Hitsville
Machines used at the infancy of the records used to break the tape
In 1960 Smokey and the Miracles charted with 'Shop Around', which led to Motown's own label independency. Hits began to follow at a rapid pace, with the Marvelettes 'Please Mr Postman' being an early example. Marvelettes songs was featured as cover version on the Beatles album 'With The Beatles'. The Fab Four also included Smokey Robinson's own composition 'You Really Got A Hold On Me '.
Holland-Dozier –Holland collaboration in songwriting provided a host of hits to the Gordy’s empire.
Berry's kids with the Beatles
Merging the music as a product with the bussines fiting in the socio-cultural circumstances of late fifties and early sixties The assembly line for music Wanted to kill the imagery of liquor and drugs and how some people thought it pertained to R&B. In 1988 Gordy sold the label to MCA Change in the 1970s – war, drugs, psyhodelic era, disco music influenced the step. He had literally changed the American music industry, introducing large numbers of suburban whites to “black” music.
Berry did have a five year relationship with the label singer, Diana Ross. The pair had a daughter called Rhonda Ross Kendrick in 1971. Their relationship was part of the company's backbone, and her eventual decision to leave Motown was read as an indicator of the label's declining fortunes. Berry's son Kennedy Gordy is the son out of a relationship with Berry's ex-girlfriend Margaret Norton. Kennedy is better known as the Motown musician Rockwell.
Records(Started by Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess in 1947 ). Black Jazz and Blues predominant with a star Chuck Berry Atlantic/Atco founded in 1947 by a Turkish immigrant Ahmet Ertegun. It was an equal opportunity record label. Featured Jazz, early Rock’n’Roll. Stars: Roberta Flack, Ray Charles Labels: Vee Jay, Imperial, Checker, King, Ace, Crown
population shift created a new demographic group, which developed R&B music in the late 1940s. In the mid-50s, black music found its expression in Soul music as a result of the confluence of R&B, gospel and doo-wop. At that moment in history, Soul got associated with the black civil rights movement through the transformation of black music into a type of funky affirmation.
Any analysis of early Motown songs must consider this interactive recording process and its role in song creation and structure. The other major factor which must be taken into account when considering the Motown style is the formative exposure to gospel traditions that was a part of almost every black musicians' experience at the time. Vehicle both to entertaiment and spirituality. 'characteristic form of verse . . . and chorus . . . The tempo of these gospel songs is usually fast as opposed to a slower tempo for the traditional hymns. The rhythm, the rhythmic element of these gospel songs is almost a predominant one.'
songs are refered to as secularized
Gospel 'Motown sound' incorporates various other stylistic features - the call-response style between lead and backing vocals; quasiimprovisatory verse melodies; and the use of handclaps, fingerclicks and tambourine to emphasise the 'backbeat' - which are common to many African- American musical styles
consisting of a short repeated lyric/melodic statement Rythm is elevated to the new structural status: catchy rhythmic or rhythmic/chordal motifs used as a foundation for either a complete song, or a particular section of the song. Artist would sit down at the piano, and basically there were three parts to the songthe words, the melody that the words were hung on, and the chord bed
achievements of Motown in terms of chart success, are undeniable. Between 1964 and 1967 Motown records accounted for, in Nelson George's summary a total of sixty top fifteen pop chart hits including fourteen number ones.
The Four Tops The Temptations Smokey Robinson and the Miracles Gladys Knight and the Pips The Supremes (Diana Ross) The Jackson 5 Stevie Wonder Martha and the Vandelas Marvin Gaye
Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want); 2:35 The Funk Brothers The Contours - Do You Love Me; 2:53 Mary Wells - My Guy; 2:48 Jr. Walker & The All-Stars Shotgun; 2:59 Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You); 2:46 Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted; 3:01 Chris Clark - Love's Gone Bad; 2:21 Rare Earth - Get Ready; 2:48
A song Dancing in the Street by Matha and the Vandellas allegedly refering to the Watts uprising taking place at the moment which the record company could not control. The Watts Uprising: referred to as the Watts Riot, a five-day disturbance in the South Central section of Los Angeles was the first of several eruptions in American cities in the 1960s. The conflict began on August 11, 1966, when a confrontation between local police and an African-American motorist unleashed a more violent altercation involving police reinforcements and members of the black community. Lasted 6 days.
Other such songs were Nowhere to Run and Shotgun They were not just Party songs as prof. Susan E. Smith argues. They clearly illustrate how the sounds of Detroit's streets could articulate the needs of African Americans
Motown and the cultural politics of Detroit Berry Gordy's soul music label and the civil rights movement. Dancing in the Street - Suzanne E. Smith, Harvard UP.
The first American music label owned by an African-American It involved many white people for the first time accepting black music and musicians in a direct way - supporting the original product instead of a cover version. In the words of Quincy Jones The talented people that flowed through Motown, both the performers on stage and the writers and producers behind the scene, broke down the barriers between black and white, between the R&B world and the 'mainstream', letting everyone see the beauty of black music.
are not going to make Black music. We’re going to make music for people. We’re going to make music for the world In the late 1950’s, many Blacks enjoyed rhythm and blues music, but it was routinely unprofitable and often performed in shabby venues. Berry Gordy, who would become one of the greatest entrepreneurs in Michigan history, would change that. He had a vision of taking Black-inspired music out of the slums and giving it broad, national appeal as a respectable art form.
Gordy’s philosophy, involved the targeting of both nightclub patrons and young fans of cutting-edge rock. He controlled every aspect of production, recording, auditoning, and artists’ image. Industrial form of entertainment. Created a "charm school" to ensure that its acts were palatable to the mainstream until 1973, when the label left Detroit and its decline already had begun.
Before Motown. A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert, 2001 U of Michigan Press Berry Gordy and the Original Black Label in Popular music (accessible from JStor) Berry Gordy Site Dertoit History Web Page Motown and the American Culture, Gelard Early, 2004 U of Michigan Press Motown Crossover Hits 1963-1966 and the Creative Process. Jon Fitzgerald in Popular Music Motown:Sex, Music and Money. Gelard Posner Our Motown Heritage.Robert Dennis. Motown Museum Page The Rise of Motown Records - When Art Met Business, and One Plus One Made Three. Tom Ersin.
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