Music Boss of Bosses: 5 Career Highlights of Motown’s Berry Gordy

As Motown: The Play hits the stage, take a look at highlights of the founder's career

berry gordy smiling

Motown founder, Berry Gordy (Image: File)

Berry Gordy is by far one of the most well-respected men in music. Known to be responsible for jump-starting the careers of some of the industry’s most talented artists including Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, the 83-year-old music executive is now putting the story about his hit-making recording company, Motown, in a Broadway play called “Motown: The Musical.” With a career that started making a musical influence 54 years ago, we’re hoping the highly anticipated play highlights some of the highs and lows of Gordy’s career and below are five reasons why the legends music business is worth making the Broadway stage.

Starting Motown: In 1959, Gordy started his own music company, Jobete Publishing, where he wrote songs for some of Detroit’s most popular artists, and in 1960 he took things a step further when he incorporated Motown Recording Corporation. He started out using the upper unit of 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit as a home for his family, while the bottom unit was where he began to build his recording company, which he later labeled Hitsville U.S.A.

Breaking racial and international barriers: Berry Gordy’s musical influence with Motown helped to break down racial barriers throughout the country in the height of the Civil Rights Movement, with audiences from all racial backgrounds showing up to sold-out Motown concerts to hear the sound of some of the country’s leading performers. Motown artists also gained international attention, especially in the UK where Motown launched its foreign label Tamla-Motown in 1965.

Helming one of the nation’s largest black-owned empires: Gordy started Motown with just a $800 loan from his family, but with an eye for talent and a killer work ethic, the music executive continued to dish out hit songs and before you knew it he was running a multi-million dollar business, making it the nation’s largest black owned business in the 1960s and 70s. In 1988, Gordy sold his lucrative recording company to MCA Inc. and Boston Ventures Limited Partnership for $61 million.

Honored by many: Helping produce over 100 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it’s only expected that Gordy gets recognized with some of the highest accolades you can ever win in music. In 1988, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame. This year, Gordy is expected to receive the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Pioneer Award, making him the first living individual to receive such honor.

Life on the stage: Proving that his musical influence and entrepreneurial success is worth being brought to the big stage, Gordy not only signed off on the Broadway play “Motown: The Musical,” but he also helped co-produce, write its book and three original songs for the project, proving that he continues to have major creative input with anything that he puts his name on.

To find out more information on where you can catch the highly-anticipated “Motown: The Musical” visit MotowntheMusical.com.

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