Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown Records, the hit-making enterprise based in Detroit, Michigan, that nurtured the careers of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, and many other music greats. The “Motown Sound” reached out across a racially divided, and politically and socially charged country to transform popular music.
Mr. Gordy is also a songwriter, boxer, producer, director, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary. In the 1960s, Gordy moved his artists into television, on shows like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His films include Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, which garnered five Academy Award nominations.
Gordy has received four honorary doctorates: one in philosophy from Occidental College; two in the humanities, from Morehouse College and Michigan State University; and one in music from Eastern Michigan University.
Among the awards recognizing Gordy’s accomplishments are the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, the Gordon Grand Fellow from Yale University, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Rainbow Coalition’s Man of the Millennium Award, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award, and the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon’s President’s Merit Award. In February 2011, President Barack Obama honored him with a Salute to Motown Evening at the White House.
Berry Gordy’s unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown. It is the basis for his play, Motown the Musical, which had its world premiere on Broadway on April 14, 2013.