Motown: The History Of A Hit Factory

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Shortly after Michael Jackson died in 2009, Helen Brown, a music critic for the Daily Telegraph wrote that the Jackson 5’s 1969 single “I Want You Back,” is “certainly the fastest man-made route to pure joy.” And while Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Jackie may have stolen the spotlight, the group - like so many others - emerged from a hit factory created by a man named Berry Gordy Jr.

Gordy founded Motown after stints as a boxer and as a worker in a Lincoln-Mercury plant. And he quickly turned the label into a force to be reckoned with, drawing on a formula of quality control he had learned at the auto factory, taking raw talent like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, and refining them into international stars. As a result, Motown became one of the most successful black-owned music companies in American history.

We talk to music journalist Adam White, author of “Motown: The Sound of Young America,” about Gordy’s meteoric rise and his lasting legacy.

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