Skip to main content

Calling Out Around the World

When we visualize important landmarks that we’ve never seen in person, we often imagine them as being huge and towering. After all, if that landmark became famous around the world, it would have to be humongous, right? Once we make our way to see the landmarks ourselves, perhaps we lose some of the wonder we felt for those places; are they really this small? Is that all there is? 

2648 West Grand Boulevard is hallowed ground. This is where, in 1959, Berry Gordy founded the record company that would become known around the world as Motown. The small house would become known as “Hitsville, USA”, where all of Motown’s biggest hits would be recorded. The recordings made in that small house would change the world, inspiring generations of artists and fans to share their own talents with the world and realize that we are all more alike than we think. In this case, the small size of the house where it all went down should be seen as inspiring; after all, if a young group of historically disadvantaged artists were able to change the world from such a small facility, their accomplishments are even more impressive.

Throughout Motown’s 60th Anniversary year, will share the story about how an amazingly talented group of African American youths changed the world from a small house on a relatively normal street in Detroit. In January 1959, the world knew nothing about Berry Gordy, West Grand Boulevard or Motown Records. That would quickly change.

Popular posts from this blog

Barrett Strong, 1941 - 2023

“Race Music” - Calling Out Around The World

Berry Gordy had a Dream- to bring sweet soul music to the world. He knew he had a tough job ahead of him; there were many who wanted to see him fail, if only because of their prejudices. As a result, Berry expected much of the performers he turned into superstars. Performers had to take charm classes and comport themselves well. Berry knew that the world would be harsh on his talent because some people would be looking for them to fail. As the motto on the albums stated- “It’s what’s in the grooves that counts.” By focusing on seemingly unrelated things, Mr. Gordy made sure that audiences paid attention to the music- and not “Race”. It certainly wasn’t a coincidence that Billboard retired the term “Race Music” from its charts after the rise of Motown. Soul and rhythm & blues- the Motown Sound- would conquer the world.

The World of Soul Music Loses Its Queen

The world of soul music has lost its undisputed queen. From the moment she stepped up on the altar of her father’s church and began singing, everyone knew they were in the presence of a future legend. Despite her young age, Aretha could sing and she would attract churchgoers from all around to hear her. That she was so young was amazing, but certainly her audiences must have realized that bigger things lay ahead for her. Little Aretha taught herself how to play the piano and amazed everyone around her, including motherly figure Mahalia Jackson, who was a gospel star herself. Her father began to see that his daughter could do more with her voice than just attract people to hear about the Lord- she could use her god given gift to sing to the world. Her father avoided the obvious record company- Motown- as he felt his daughter would get lost among all the other African-American acts signed there. Certainly Columbia Records could advance his daughter’s career; she’d be one of their few “r