PBS-TV to Present AN EVENING WITH BERRY GORDY
The HistoryMakers will welcome and honor Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Motown Records, during AN EVENING WITH Berry Gordy on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at The Art Institute of Chicago. The program will consist of a one-on-one interview with Gordy conducted by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill and taped live for airing on PBS-TV. Ifill’s interview will lead the audience through Gordy’s celebrated life as an entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, movie director and producer who has left an indelible influence on music and films both nationally and internationally.
It was recently announced by producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris and Gordy that MOTOWN The Musical, based on the life of the legendary Motown founder, will open in the Spring of 2013 on Broadway at a Nederlander Theatre to be announced. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, MOTOWN will feature a book by Berry Gordy and music and lyrics from the Motown legendary catalogue, featuring dozens of hit songs made famous by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five and many more.
MOTOWN will be a gripping story about the protégés and stars of a uniquely talented musical family who, under Berry Gordy’s guidance, began as “the Sound of Young America” and went on to become some of the greatest superstars of all time.
At the special event at the Art Institute in Chicago, some of Motown’s most recognizable performers and producers will also be in attendance. R&B songwriter, producer, and singer Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson fame will take the stage to honor Gordy. Simpson and her late husband Nick Ashford were an important part of the Motown family, having penned such hits as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.” Simpson will be joined by a new generation of Motown’s recording artists.
Popular singer Kem will deliver a special tribute during the taping. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy -- known to the music world as Redfoo -- one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, will be in attendance. Several early members of the Motown family, including Jimmy Ruffin, Claudette Robinson of The Miracles, Freda and Sherrie Payne, and Al Bell, former president of Stax and Motown Records, will also be on hand for this historic event.
Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, serves as executive producer. Suzanne de Passe, former president of Motown Productions, and Charles Randolph-Wright, director of the upcoming Broadway production of Motown: the Musical, are serving as co-producers. Ray Chew, music director for American Idol, serves as the show’s music producer. Music industry powerhouses Universal Music Group, Sony Music, David Geffen, Clarence Avant, and Jerry Moss are major underwriters for the evening.
Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959 and grew the company into the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the United States. He is also credited with having created a new sound that changed popular music – the Motown Sound. While working on an assembly line at Ford Motor Company, Gordy began writing and selling songs that were recorded by several local artists. After borrowing $800 from his father, he formed his own company – Motown Records – that was headquartered in a house on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard. In 1960, Motown released the song “Shop Around” written by Gordy’s longtime friend Smokey Robinson and recorded by The Miracles with Robinson on lead vocals. The song sold more than a million copies and helped to launch the most influential era in the history of popular music. Motown quickly turned out successive hits by signing and grooming recording artists such as Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, and Mary Wells.
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