Performance to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Motown
November 9, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A performance in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Motown record
label will be held in the Young Main Lounge of Memorial Center on Nov. 20. Doors will
open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.
The event is free for all Illinois Wesleyan faculty, staff, and students and $5.00
for the general public.
Illinois Wesleyan’s a capella groups, A Touch of Class and Suspended, will be performing
along with Illinois Wesleyan sophomore Stefan Riley, faculty member Erin Mulliken,
Associate Professor of Music Carren Moham, and special guest, Indiana University’s
Soul Revue. There will also be door prizes, raffles, trivia games, and displays set
up around the room to encourage audience participation.
“Since this is in celebration of Motown’s 50th anniversary, I feel like we need to
educate and not just entertain,” said Roshaunda Ross, director of Multicultural Student
Affairs. “This generation is losing an important part of history. Rap and pop stars
sample parts of these Motown songs. Young people hear it and they like it, but they
don’t know the history behind it.”
Motown was a group of record labels founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959 in Detroit
as Tamla Records and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in 1960. As the first
record label to be owned by an African-American to primarily feature African-American
artists who achieved cross-over success, is said to have played an important role
in the racial integration of popular music. Over the next decade, Motown had 110 top
10 hits with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Four Tops,
and The Jackson 5 all working under their label.
Although they are most famous for a pop influenced style of soul music classified
as “The Motown Sound,” Motown has owned or distributed releases from over 45 different
subsidiaries in varying genres, including country, gospel, spoken word, rock, rap,
and R&B. The trademark “Motown Sound” was characterized by the use of tambourines
to accent the back beat, prominent but melodic electric bass guitar lines, distinctive
melody and chord structures, and a call and response style singing that originated
in gospel music. Traces of all of these can still be seen in popular music today.
In 1972, Motown moved its headquarters to Los Angles and became involved in the movie
industry, producing hits such as Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, Thank God It’s Friday, The Wiz, and Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon in the mid-70s and 80s. During the 1990s, Motown was home to successful artists such
as Boys II Men and Brian McKnight, and in 1999 it became a part of the Universal Music
For additional information, contact Ross at (309) 556-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Katie Webb ’13, (309) 556-3181