Skip to content

Motown The Musical Tells the Story Behind the Music that Shattered Barriers

February 12, 2015
Motown The Musical First National Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Motown The Musical First National Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

It began as one man’s story, became everyone’s music, and is now Broadway’s musical. Motown The Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more.

Motown The Musical, part of the PNC Broadway Lights, is heading to Belk Theater Aug. 25- Sept. 6, and you do not want to miss it! It’s a show that will have you on your feet, celebrating the music we all know and love. CLICK HERE for tickets before it’s too late.

Read on to hear straight from the man behind it all. There’s no doubt this show will entertain, but the story will also leave you feeling inspired.

Berry Gordy: In His Own Words

On Motown’s rise to the top

“I am often asked, ‘How did you do it? How did you make it work at a time when so many barriers existed for black people and black music?’ There are many answers to those questions, but at the base of them is atmosphere. Hitsville had an atmosphere that allowed people to experiment creatively and gave them the courage not to be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, I sometimes encouraged mistakes. Everything starts as an idea, and as far as I was concerned, there were no stupid ones.”

From songwriter to publisher and producer

“Songwriting was my love, and protecting that love, in many ways, was the motivation for everything I did in the early years of my career. Producing the artists who sang my songs was the next logical step to making sure my songs were done the way I wanted. Publishing came about when I couldn’t get my songwriter’s royalties from a New York publisher. Protecting my songs was also the reason I got into publishing and eventually the record business.”

On reaching white audiences

“We released some of our early albums without showing the artists’ faces on them. The Marvelettes’ album ‘Please Mr. Postman’ had a picture of a mailbox on it; ‘Bye Bye Baby’ by Mary Wells, a love letter. We put a cartoon of an ape on the cover of the Miracles’ ‘Doin’ Mickey’s Monkey,’ and an Isley Brothers album had two white lovers at the beach on its cover.

“This practice became less necessary as our music’s popularity started overcoming the prejudices.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: