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…

Heaven Must Have Sent You: Your Holland-Dozier-Holland History Lesson

I’ve been prone to these songwriter series playlists moreso. This time we make a visit to our first team. While Burt Bacharach’s mix featured him not exclusively tethered to Hal David, and Sylvia Moy found herself working with a round robin of partners, this one solely focuses on Holland-Dozier-Holland. Brothers Eddie and Brian Holland and…

Unpolished Diamonds, Unused Jewels: More Motown Femme Marvels 1964-69

As we wind down Women’s History Month we head back to Detroit. While we worship at the temples of Marvin, Stevie and The Temptations, The Sound Of Young America was built on the clicking of high heels. Not only was it the matriarchy of The Gordy Family that had Berry’s Back, early acts such as Mable John…

The Ambassador of The Motown Sound: Miss Martha Reeves

Calling out around the world, we have one helluva birthday to celebrate. She’s perhaps that singular and that collective all in one. In a lot of ways, she’s always and always will be “Miss Motown.” We’re talking Martha Rose Reeves. She turns 75 years old this July 18th. Her efforts for Motown and beyond have…

A Girl Named Gladys: The Marvelous Marvelette Gladys Horton

I originally wrote this post 5 years ago when Gladys Horton passed away at the age of 65 in 2011. Horton’s voice on Marvelettes singles had been a profound link into me digging deeper into my experience as an outsider observing the inside, taking no shit from no one, and living a life from steadfast…

The Empress:The Gilded Hickory of Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight’s voice is much like a “Linus blanket” I carry with myself. From childhood to now in my mid 30’s, her voice still offers comfort, safety and understanding. Few other voices feel so essential, interwoven into the fabric of my existence. I’m pretty sure, minus her Fury, Vee-Jay and Maxx years, her discography with…

The Myth and Magic of Mary Wells

It’s oft the story that Mary Wells is the forgotten Queen of Motown. She is that, for sure, but there’s a lot to be said about her career that spanned nearly 30 years past her exit from the label as well. She’s sort of the mythological Lilith of Motown in that way. She made the…

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…