Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy Awarded National Medal of Arts by President Obama
The 2015 National Medal of Arts Citations, which will be presented at the ceremony, will be read:
"To Berry Gordy for helping to create a trailblazing new sound in American music. As a record producer and songwriter, he helped build Motown, launching the music careers of countless legendary artists. His unique sound helped shape our Nation's story."
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the federal government.
To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America's rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.
The National Endowment for the Humanities brings the best in humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects to the American people. To date, NEH has awarded $5 billion in grants to build the nation's cultural capital - at museums, libraries, colleges and universities, archives, and historical societies-and to advance our understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy, and language. Both Endowments are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year.
Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown, the hit-making enterprise that nurtured the careers of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, and many other music greats. The "Motown sound" reached out across a racially divided, politically and socially charged country to transform popular music. The year 2009 marked an international year-long celebration of Motown's 50th Anniversary. Mr. Gordy is also a songwriter, boxer, producer, director, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary. In the 1960's, Gordy moved his artists into television, on shows like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. His films include Lady Sings the Blues, which garnered five Academy Award nominations, and Mahogany. Gordy has received four honorary doctorates: one in philosophy from Occidental College; two in the humanities, from Morehouse College and Michigan State University; and one in music from Eastern Michigan University. Among the awards recognizing Gordy's accomplishments are the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, the Gordon Grand Fellow from Yale University, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, the Rainbow Coalition's Man of the Millennium Award, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, the T.J. Martell Foundation's Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award, and the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon's President's Merit Award. In February 2011, President Barack Obama honored him with a Salute to Motown evening at the White House. Berry Gordy's unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown and the basis of the hit Broadway stage production Motown The Musical London currently playing in London's West End at The Shaftsbury Theatre.