The young generation of today may not be familiar with the term “Motown.” However, they could most likely relate when the names of its musicians are mentioned.
Motown is a record label that was once known as the platform for African-American artists to have their voices heard in mainstream America.
Its musicians served as the envoys of the black community to communicate their unique type of sound which were mostly based on soul and gospel music to what was predominantly white society.
On January 12, 1959, Motown Records was established by record executive Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records in Detroit, Michigan.
The company’s name is a portmanteau of the nickname of Michigan’s largest and most populous city – the words “motor” and “town.”
Since Motown’s inception, its artists have made waves in the music scene. Among them are Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
For millennials, they would identify Motown more through the musicians that have signed on the label and became well-known in the 1990s through 2000s.
Among them is Boyz II Men which is an R&B male vocal group. Originating from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this Motown band’s chart-topping songs include “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” and “On Bended Knee.”
Moreover, Akon is a 45-year-old singer and rapper who was signed under the Universal Motown record label.
Millennials can certainly recognize him when his famous songs are played.
Among them are “Smack That” which was released in 2006 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five straight weeks, and “I Wanna Love You,” which was his first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Singing alongside Snoop Dogg, Akon was also successful for this song because it stayed on top of the American music charts for two straight weeks.
In 2008, “Right Now (Na Na Na)” was among the year’s favorite anthems by Akon which also peaked in the top 10 charts in the US.
This year, Motown marks its 60th anniversary. As a salute to the iconic Detroit-based record label, the organizers of the Grammy Awards are filming a concert slated on February 12 in Los Angeles, California.
The taping of “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” will take place two days after the Grammy Awards and will feature Motown alumni like Boyz II Men, Ross, and Ne-Yo.
“All of Me” singer John Legend will also make an appearance, paying tribute to music legends like Wonder, Elton John, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and the Bee Gees.
The Motown special show will be broadcasted on CBS in April.