Everybody Sings Smokey: Motown’s Poet Laureate 50 times Over

It wouldn’t be Motown’s 60th Anniversary without visiting their premiere singer, songwriter and producer. As legend goes, Smokey Robinson met Berry Gordy with a notebook of songs, of which maybe one or two Gordy considered viable, yet he was impressed with the teenager’s moxie. So goes the template of who Gordy accepted into the fold,…

The Sound Of Young America As A Senior Citizen: Motown Records at 60

On January 12, 1959, some 60 years ago today, Motown Records was founded. In reality, it wasn’t founded as Motown at all. The original name was Tamla Records. The Motortown-punning, Detroit proud referencing Motown label didn’t press until 1960. The Tamla Records pointed to one of the main reasons we ended up with Motown Records…

In Envy Of The Motor City: More Motown Femme Soul Soundalikes Vol. II

When you’re as large a cultural phenomenon as Motown Records, the depth of imitation as flattery is quite vast. I’ve explored this pool of influence before. After sitting with the topic for even longer, I decided, just in time for Pop Culture Summer, it was time to look at how The Sound Of Young America breathed…

Taurus Talent at its finest: The Too Short Times of Tammi Terrell

I think of Tammi Terrell’s short 24 years on this planet, nearly 34 years old, and think I’m really wasting time. It didn’t exactly take that much time for her to establish herself as a legend. I don’t know whether her early death elicits moments of sadness, because she fought up until she went into…

Dear Blondie: A Reflection on Florence Ballard and the legacy of The Supremes.

She was terrific. She was also terrified of the world. 40 years ago today, Florence Glenda Chapman, formerly Florence Ballard of The Supremes, died suddenly of Coronary Thrombosis in Detroit. The inspiration for Dreamgirls became a ghostly gothic story that day. An intersection in which race, rape culture, the pressures of fame and feminism developed…

Kim Weston “A Little More Love” (Tamla 54106, 1964)

Kim Weston “A Little More Love” (Tamla 54106, 1964) It’s rare that I say I have a favorite anything. Fickle Gemini and all. But I do, about 75% of the time say I do have a favorite singer, and that’s none other than Kim Weston. Born 76 years ago today as Agatha Nathalia Weston in…

Blinky “I Wouldn’t Change The Man He Is” (Motown 1134, 1968)

Blinky “I Wouldn’t Change The Man He Is” (Motown 1134, 1968) Perhaps the most overlooked, poorly treated woman in Motown’s later golden years was Sondra “Blinky” Williams Oakland born, L.A. raised and recording almost exclusively in gospel settings through 1966, Blinky brought a visceral fire to most every recording she laid down for the Motor…