Monday, September 27, 2010

Berry Gordy: Did Motown Records Build Cultural Bridges?

In the 1960s, Berry Gordy (founder of Motown Records) stressed the creation of music that was, “simple, direct and emotional” with cross over potential. He established a factory like operation, complete with a “finishing school” that polished ghetto kid performers, and produced a consistent string of star performers and hits. Gordy’s emphasis on creating non-threatening performers made blacks and by inference the civil rights movement more palatable to whites. The scenario would play out like this: “I like the music, I like the performer, he/she isn’t so bad. I now have a cultural bridge (however narrow) to relate to other blacks. They aren’t so bad.” Whites begin to relate to blacks in terms of common humanity rather than stereotypes using the cultural bridge provided by the Motown sound. Television impresario Ed Sullivan summed it up when he said, “(The Negro performer) has become a welcome visitor, not only to the white adult, but to the white children, who will finally lay Jim Crow to rest.”

My titles on Amazon

My titles at Barnes & Noble

The best reading experience on your Android phone or tablet, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 8 PC or tablet, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone.