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What Is the History of Motown?

What Is the History of Motown?
Posted By: Anica Oaks on January 18, 2022

What Is the History of Motown?


The history of Motown is a lengthy and legendary one. Motown Records, or Motown as it’s more commonly known, was founded in Detroit in 1959 by Motown record producer Berry Gordy Jr. after he had success producing Jackie Wilson’s hit single Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want to Meet). The company name was taken from the last name of one of his favorite singers, Marvin Gaye. Read on to learn more about the rise of Motown.


The Story Behind the Music


Most people are familiar with Motown Records, but they might not be familiar with how Detroit’s legendary record label got its start. The story begins in 1959 when Berry Gordy Jr. decided he wanted to turn his hobby into a career by becoming a record producer. As fate would have it, he met Anna Robinson, who introduced him to her brother, Billy Williams.



Williams invested his entire savings into building up a studio and Gordy decided that if he took over ownership of Williams’ business (at one point called Tri-Phi Records), then his brother-in-law would become his partner.


The Sound of Motown


The Detroit-based Motown record label played a major role in American popular music for more than 20 years. Motown grew to be the largest African-American-owned business in the country by 1968, and today they are still among the most well-known names in music. At first, Gordy’s company recorded doo-wop groups such as The Matadors; however, it wasn’t long before they began recording artists with stronger voices and fuller backgrounds. For example, Marvin Gaye was discovered while he was singing at a local hospital where Gordy worked as an orderly.


Some Notable Artists


When Motown Records was first founded, Gordy was just using a four-track tape machine, some microphones, a bass guitar, and two borrowed sound engineers (Hollerith Bentley & friend Raynoma Liles) when he recorded his first two songs: Money by Barrett Strong and Luve Me. Other notable artists include The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Supremes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder. Notable Singles: My Girl (The Temptations), Dancing in the Street (Martha & The Vandellas), Where Did Our Love Go (The Supremes), Baby I Need Your Loving (Four Tops).




Motown plays an important role in the history of music in America and beyond. Let this information inspire you as you continue to learn more about Motown and its history.






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