Motown: The Sound that changed America.

 Most critics of Motown have been white Americans, while the most important musicians were not.


Take a look to the past

African American culture has made a vital contribution to American art. Slavery in the United States caused  the creation of African American culture. A culture ,that in years of slavery, was immersed in the arts for mitigate the pain. Those slaves sang to ease the suffering and to transmit messages  while they working for people who did not have a shred of humanity or moral, in those vast fields of cotton. That originator society of the  movement left ignoring that a century later someone of “theirs” would create a important recording that would have an important role in the racial integration of popular music.


Detroit, the crib of the African American sound.

Already established the famous genres of African American music, Jazz and Blues, a man named Berry Gordy Jr  will change the sound of America forever from Detroit, this is the story of how a recording creates its own sound, The Motown sound. We must mention that Detroit was not a harmonious city where white people and black people lived. The black people came to Detroit to finally be living like in the southern states. Causing racial disturbances in the 40s and 60s, the last disturbances happened in 1967 that they were the most savage of the entire United States history. The white population left the downtown, it was left to the hands of the black population, So, Detroit became a majority black city, which in 1973 would elect its first black mayor, Coleman Young.




On purpose of a brief biography

Berry Gordy, Jr. (born in Detroit, Michigan) was the seventh of eight children (Fuller, Esther, Anna, Loucye, George, Gwen, Berry and Robert), born to the middle-class family of Berry Gordy II a.k.a. Berry Gordy, Sr. (1888–1978)  and Bertha Fuller Gordy (1899–1975), who had relocated to Detroit from Sandersville, Georgia, in 1922. Gordy was brought up in a tight-knit family with strong morals. Berry Gordy, Sr. was lured to Detroit by the many job opportunities for black people offered by booming automotive businesses.

Berry Gordy, Jr.’s older siblings were all prominent black citizens of Detroit. Berry, however, dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to become a professional boxer in hopes of becoming rich quick, a career he followed until 1950 when he was drafted by the United States Army for the Korean War.

After his return from Korea in 1953, he married Thelma Coleman. He developed his interest in music by writing songs and opening the 3-D Record Mart, a record store featuring jazz music. The store was unsuccessful and Gordy sought work at the Lincoln-Mercury plant, but his family connections put him in touch with Al Green (not the singer), owner of the Flame Show Bar talent club, where he met singer, Jackie Wilson.

In 1957 Wilson recorded “Reet Petite”, a song Gordy had co-written with his sister Gwen and writer-producer, Billy Davis. It became a modest hit, but had more success internationally, especially in the UK where it reached the Top 10 and even later topped the chart on re-issue in 1986. Wilson recorded six more songs co-written by Gordy over the next two years, including “Lonely Teardrops”, which topped the R & B charts and got to number 7 in the pop chart. Berry and Gwen Gordy also wrote “All I Could Do Was Cry” for the late Etta James at Chess Records. (By Wikipedia)


Building a racial bridge

Berry Gordy will help to calm down the hatred of the population.  January 12, 1959, He founded Tamla Records  after three years united it with his second project, Motown,

MoTown_PunkRawker_MotownGordy decided rename the record for Motown (‘Motor-City’ ) in honor of the position of the automotive industry in Detroit. Motown was the first recording of success in property with an African American with artists of the same race. It has nearly 200 songs number one in the charts. As a result, It was born, during the 60s, “Motown sound, ” a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.



In 1959, Gordy purchased the property that would become Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. studio. The photography studio located in the back of the property was modified into a small recording studio and the Gordys moved into the second floor living quarters.

The Motown sound was coming away, building bridges between two races with great resentment, as it says Smokey Robinson on Motown’s cultural impact:

“Into the ’60s, I was still not of a frame of mind That we where not only making music, we where making history. But I did Because Recognize the impact acts Were going all over the world one at that time. I Recognized That the bridges we crossed, the racial problems and the barriers That we broke down with music. I Recognized That Because I lived it. I would come to the South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated. Then They started to get the Motown music and we would go back and the audiences and the integrated Were Kids were dancing together and holding hands.


Motown Stars

The company was the producer of artists like Stevie Wonder, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas and it helped to put on track  the career of The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross or ‘Smokey’ Robinson.

motown-artists-picture-03Stevie-Wonder-and-Marvin--007 (1)


Final years

In December 1998,  Motown was absorbed into the Universal Music Group. Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations had remained with the label since its early days, although all except Wonder recorded for other labels for several years. Ross left Motown for RCA Records from 1981 to 1988, but returned in 1989 and stayed until 2002. Robinson left the label in the early 1990s, and the Temptations left a second time in 2004. Wonder is, today, the only artist from Motown’s early period still on the label.

The Reflexion

Although the music is constantly changing, the Motown sound live on our culture and it will symbolize the union of two faced races and thanks to this fact we know that music is able to arrive where the hate inhabited  to dissuade it.

Enjoy “The Sound of Young America” :


Post dedicated to Samuel, love of black culture.
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The engine stopped in Detroit

The Motor City is now a ghost town


Jessica García.

Detroit, the city of General Motors, is the rise and fall of the auto industry.

In the fifties, Detroit contained two million of inhabitants. Nowdays  there are 700,000 people, a slow decline started in 1967 after one of the most violent racial disturbances in United States history.

The city declared bankrupt, began his crisis with the crisis in the U.S. in 2008. They have been years of burned and looted houses, large theaters converted into car parks, monumental buildings stranded. Detroit also has some 78,000 abandoned buildings , turning the streets into a real ghost town.United-Artists-Theater-in-Detroit-2067744

After the arrival of the crisis, Detroit suffered a lot, due to its principal source of funding, the auto industry, therefore with increasing automobile manufacturing technology robots, labor cheaper in other parts of the world and increased competition in the sector has led to the disappearance of large of employment in the region. The gradual deterioration of the city and the failure of all attempts to reactivate have led to this situation. The depopulation of the city has led to the loss of taxpayers and the income , in addition to unemployment , business closures and corporations have caused the city can not cope with the costs of public services. More than a third of the people live below the poverty line.


Thanks to this, only a third of the ambulances are in operation,  cleaning services are deficient and  in some areas water or lights do not  work, the trush accumulates in the  streets because the local  government has no money to repair garbage trucks. Firefighters and  police do not have the right equipment to do their jobs, this situation has triggered a high level of crime. Betting on casinos, cinemas, malls, baseball and american football and real-estate development, did not produce results. The city accelerated its decline linked to strong political corruption developed in the 90s. There was a time when everything was  luxury and grandeur in Detroit. Now nobody wants to live here. People go to work, but their home is not this.

Why should the Art  pay the consequences?

Kevin Orr, responsible for managing the bankruptcy of the city, has demanded for an authorship of all  works of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). “The works collected over the years are the result of great effort and money collectors and philanthropists who wanted to give back to the community through art, all that work and effort that made Detroit a great city,” says Salvador Pons Salort , head of European art department of the DIA.

The city wants to be saved and to be again what it was. Meanwhile,  the small population took refuge in the art, the only escape from reality.


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Roy DeCarava. El Harlem de los 60s

A ritmo de Blues de los años 60, Roy DeCarava fotografió su querido Harlem. Fotógrafo afroamericano, nacido en Harlem en 1919.

Imagen“Para que un pintor negro sea artista tiene que unirse al mundo blanco o no funcionará, tendrá que aceptar los valores de la cultura blanca”. Estas palabras se deben a que comenzó con la pintura, pero poco a poco se dio cuenta de que la fotografía era su verdadera vocación.

En plena lucha por los derechos humanos en la que se encontraba “la américa del odio”, Roy DeCarava comenzó a fotografiar la realidad social en la que vivía la comunidad afroamericana, en concreto en su barrio, Harlem.ImagenImagenImagen

En 1952 consiguió la beca de investigación que otorgaba la Fundación Guggenheim -primer fotógrafo negro que lo consiguió-, declaró que él no perseguía hacer documentos sociológicos, decía “mi trabajo es una creación expresiva, la clase de mirada interior y comprensiva de los negros que, según creo, sólo un fotógrafo negro puede interpretar”.

A parte de retratar lo cotidiano, se dedicó a retratar el Jazz en versión papel a artistas como Joe Louis, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Hazel Scott, Jackie McLean, Horace Silver, Elvin Jones, John Coltrane.


Murió en Brooklyn en 2009.

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