Actor playing Stevie Wonder stands center stage. Martin Luther King, Jr. projections are featured on either side.

Motown Music: Our Bridge of Boundless Unity

Fri, Nov 17, 2017

Written by: Dale Dorlin

As a young boy growing up on the east side of Detroit during the mid-90s, I can still hear my grandmother playing Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up during family cookouts and during times of epic celebration.

The word Motown remains synonymous with music and soul. It's powerful to think how this iconic music genre brought about change, integration, and the fight towards equitable opportunities for all persons, no matter the color of their skin. The soul heard in this sound invited new artistic collaborations and interactions that elevated our relationships and created a better society for all.

Berry Gordy, Jr. founded Motown Records on January 12, 1959, in Detroit, Michigan. At that time neighborhoods within the Motor City, and throughout the country, remained segregated. The music heard in Motown The Musical played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and the progression we see today. Through Mr. Gordy’s vision and leadership, his Motown empire brought about change that was foundational in the success of many artists by promoting and hiring the most talented singers, musicians, songwriters, producers, and staff to create those irresistible songs with universal appeal.

We have a long way to go, but the music of Motown and its artists continues to inspire change in all of us as we listen to those nostalgic sounds sampled in mainstream pop stations across the country, streamed on apps such as Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal, heard in television and film, and on stage through this soulful Broadway musical tribute. Motown’s uplifting voice is truly a bridge of musical support for the arts and showcases unity that has no boundaries, spanning from Detroit to Pittsburgh and around the globe—respectfully and gratefully.

This playlist represents the soundtrack to my family. We hope you'll enjoy some of our favorite Motown sounds. Dance has always been the purpose of music in my family, so just push play and let it all hang out!

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Photo: Cartreze Tucker (Stevie Wonder) & Cast of MOTOWN THE MUSICAL. © Joan Marcus, 2017

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