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Motown Founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney Play Piano to Benefit Motown Museum’s PROJECT HARMONY

Related: Project Harmony, Steinway, Motown Museum, Berry Gordy, Paul McCartney


One of Motown's prized musical instruments, a nine-foot 1877 Steinway grand piano, made its debut at a charitable event to benefit Motown Museum at Steinway Hall in New York City on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, where Motown founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney played it for the first time following its extensive restoration.

With 100 patrons of Motown Museum in attendance, guests had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share with the audience why he was moved to support the restoration of this piano-one of the many instruments that helped create the legendary Motown Sound-following a visit to Motown Museum in July 2011, saying "We were wandering around Studio A inside Motown Museum, when I saw this piano I thought, I can't come to Motown and not tinker on it. Once I realized it was unplayable, I called Steinway & Sons and they also realized…this piano was part of a major moment in history. And, now people in the future will record on it and keep the legacy of Motown alive."

He also shared his personal appreciation for Motown and its musical influence.

"Growing up in Liverpool as little kids we started to get a feel for American music," said McCartney. "And, suddenly it all changed-there was this sound we never heard before. So we bought the records like everyone else, we learned them." McCartney said jokingly.

He continued, "When I went to Detroit last year, for me the Museum was such a special place where this music was made. If you are in Detroit you must go and see it-its history-that's what it is."

Motown founder Berry Gordy spoke about the lasting cultural influence and social impact of Motown, the upcoming, highly anticipated opening of Motown: The Musical on Broadway in spring 2013 and the vital role and bright future of Motown Museum-as the physical space where the celebrated Motown legacy and its artifacts are protected and preserved to inspire future generations. He also told a story about the day he heard The BeatLes Wanted to use three Motown songs on one of their albums.

"That was the day Motown truly went international thanks to The Beatles," said Gordy. "It is amazing to me how music continues to bring people together. Paul and I grew up thousands of miles apart and here we are united in music."

Gordy continued, "I am so proud to stand next to you tonight," he said to McCartney. "You are a dear friend who was the catalyst for this evening because of your love and appreciation of Motown."

Paul McCartney and Berry Gordy unveiled the piano together by removing a covering with the Steinway & Sons emblem, with Paul McCartney saying to Berry Gordy, "I think you should kick it off, it's your piano."

Following the unveiling, the two musical icons together played an electrifying rendition of Motown's 1959 first hit record "Money (That's What I Want)" written by Berry Gordy that was subsequently covered by The Beatles. Berry Gordy started the song and then graciously asked Paul McCartney to take over. Paul McCartney then continued his performance by playing "My Valentine" followed by "Lady Madonna" and "Hey Jude."

The meaning behind Project: Harmony-to celebrate Motown's lasting legacy following this piano's restoration-inspired other artists to perform and show their support as part of this special evening. Following McCartney and Gordy's performance, the energy of the evening continued with singer/songwriter Michael Bolton and Motown star Valerie Simpson performing a powerful rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Avid Detroit supporter Kid Rock was also in attendance.

"My childhood was greatly influenced by Motown," said Michael Bolton. "Listening to Paul McCartney talk about the influence of Motown tonight speaks to its magnificence and impact."

The evening concluded with a live auction, with bidding led by Leila Dunbar-a recognized auctioneer and featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow on PBS. The auction featured collectible music items to benefit Motown Museum, including a one-of-a-kind, metallic white 2000 Gibson Les Paul Standard Guitar signed by Paul McCartney and Berry Gordy, Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson autographed "Shop Around" sheet music, two tickets to the opening night of Motown: The Musical, including access to a private post-reception following the event, two tickets to Paul McCartney's "On The Run" North American VIP tour and a private party at Motown Museum for up to 200 people.

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