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Copy of Motown's Impact on American and British Culture
Transcript of Copy of Motown's Impact on American and British Culture
American and British Culture The Beginnings of the Motown Record Company Founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr. in Detroit, Michigan.
Original record label was Tamla Records. Gordy implemented a second label, Motown Records, and merged it with Tamla Records to form the Motown Record Corporation.
1961- Motown’s first million-selling record,
“Shop Around” by The Miracles,
reached number two on the
Billboard Hot 100 and number one
on the R&B charts. (Fitzgerald 98)
Between 1961 to 1971, the company
had over 100 top 10 hits. First signed act was The Miracles
The lead singer, Smokey Robinson, became the vice president of the company. “Hitsville U.S.A”- Motown’s first headquarters including administration and a recording studio. Notable artists include: The Supremes The Jackson 5 Stevie Wonder Marvin Gaye The Temptations The Early Impact of Motown The first American music label to be owned by an African-American
The first record label to successfully market black artists to the white mainstream audience. (Dahl 12-15)
“For the most part, black artists were forced to record on white-owned labels that regarded their work as novelties, one-offs and curiosities.” (Ross) From its early beginnings, Motown music became a vehicle for black pride and self-expression. (Dahl 12-15)
Motown produced some of the greatest artists of all time. The Motown Sound (George 102-103)
Trademarked by Motown as the “Sound of Young America.”
New type of soul music with some pop influence.
“Great melodies, lots of tambourines and hand clapping, blaring horns, interplay between the lead singer and his or her backup vocalists, driving bass lines and foot-slapping drum parts.” (Cruz)
Influenced other artists to try out this innovative sound. The Miracles Artist Development “A concept modeled after the movie-studio charm schools of the thirties and forties.” (Posner 115)
Taught artists on the Motown label how to dress, act in public, talk to reporters, perform onstage, and appeal to mainstream audiences. (Ryan 6-9)
The Artist Development idea taught other musical groups how to breakthrough into the popular music market. Also, it influenced the African-American community to change the image held by white Americans of them during that time period of racial tension.
Allowed African-Americans to feel more dignified and proud. (Early 56-57)
Influenced the style of upcoming artists. Typical Motown Style: Berry Gordy, Jr. and His Impact on the World Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1929
Borrowed $800 from his family to start his own record label.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Known as a successful business man, but should also be recognized for his participation in the Civil Rights Movement. (O’Brien) He produced hit records for African-American artists, which helped in the struggle for racial equality.
Gordy was able to “use music as a way to reach into the homes of Americans and subtly create social change by putting African-Americans in a positive light.” (Hatton) The “All-American image” that he created for the artists under his label allowed them to appear on shows like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show.
The Motown Sound, that Gordy created, unified young people throughout the world. Everyone enjoyed the same music and the same dance crazes.
(Gordy) Even though he is unrecognized as a civil rights activist, Gordy impacted American culture in a strong way; “he helped to create a climate in which people were willing to look at African-Americans as equals.” (Hatton) Videos of Motown Songs Please listen to the first minute of the song in order to get the general feel for each performance. This is one of the most well-known protest songs. Edwin Starr made it famous during the time of the Vietnam War. It became an anti-war anthem for protestors. Many artists covered this song after Starr released it. This is an example of how some Motown songs reflected on certain problems and tried to bring attention to important causes. From the lyrics, it is easy to see that this song is about the troubles of the world. The issues include police brutality, civil rights, and war. This was one of Motown’s most political songs. Edwin Starr- "War" Marvin Gaye- "What's Going On" This is the group’s signature song. From the lyrics, it is easy to gather that this is a fun, party song about being happy and carefree. However, many misinterpreted the lyrics and used it as a civil rights anthem. The up tempo beat and backing vocals are attributes to many Motown songs. This video also shows the choreography and fashion style that became so influential to society. Martha and The Vandellas- "Dancing in the Street" Artists' Individual Impacts on Culture and Society Major success during the 60’s and 70’s
“The Prince of Motown” Marvin Gaye (1958-1984) What’s Going On (Album)
Gaye released his protest album "What’s Going On" in 1971.
Initially Gordy did not want the album to be released because he thought Gaye was “taking things too far.” (Posner 252)
However, Gaye refused to budge on the meaningful album.
Touched on issues such as street life, the environment, social inequality, and the Vietnam War. (Posner 253) The title song from the album was one of Motown’s most political songs.
“What’s Going On” was a “symphonic soul masterpiece addressing a range of social issues from war and civil rights to poverty.” (Clague 504) This album impacted the world because Gaye was known for romantic love songs, not social commentary.
He opened the door for other artists to follow in his steps of branching out from his roots.
Gaye’s persistence also influenced Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to acquire creative control in order to produce their own albums. (Ritz 312-314) Edwin Starr's "War" • Originally was recorded by The Temptations, but Motown thought that the song would alienate conservative fans and also hurt The Temptations’ image as their most popular male group. (Ribowsky 210, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”) • After numerous requests to release the song, Motown re-recorded it with Edwin Starr.
• Starr’s version of “War” set the tone for political commentary songs.
(Stewart 209) • “War” is an outspoken anti-Vietnam War protest song. The direct message “became an anthem for a disaffected generation disgusted over an increasingly unpopular war in Southeast Asia.” (Posner 247)
• This song empowered the community to stand up for their beliefs that the Vietnam War needed to be stopped. The Temptations (1960-Present) • The Temptations are best known for their identifiable dance moves, perfect harmonies, and coifed looks.
• They have had four number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and fourteen hits on the R&B charts.
• They were the first Motown act to receive a Grammy Award. (Ribowsky, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”) • They perfected a refined style of dance.
• Many soul groups have been influenced by The Temptations’ vocal styling and stage presence.
• British artists like Duran Duran, the Rolling Stones, and Rod Stewart have covered Temptations songs. (Ribowsky, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”) Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" • Although it was released in 1964, the radio stations played it over and over during the following years.
• In 1967, riots in Detroit broke out and this song became an anthem during that time. It was meant to influence people not to riot, but to dance and enjoy life instead.
(Ryan 166) • Many people saw the song as a call to demonstrate in streets or anthem for social change. Some activists used the song during their demonstrations.
• However, this song was meant to uplift people’s spirits during a tremulous time, not promote riots.
(Farley 53) The Supremes (1959-1977) • Their album, The Supremes A’ Go-Go, was the first album by an all female group to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. (Ribowsky 257, “The Supremes”)
• The Supremes very increasingly popular with white audiences and became one of the first black musical groups to sustain crossover success. (Ribowsky 181, “The Supremes”) •In addition, they were the first U.S. group marketed for their individuality as performers. Usually groups were advertised as one entity, but The Supremes were seen as three separate personalities. This promotional strategy allowed audiences to get to know the girls of the group individually. People were able
to learn facts about their favorite Supreme. (Ribowsky 167-169, “The Supremes”) • Many following female artists were influenced by their well-groomed and poised look.
• Popular in the United States and abroad because of their regular appearances on television shows.
• Their mainstream success opened the door for other Motown artists like The Temptations and The Jackson 5 to also find crossover achievements.
(Ribowsky 182, “The Supremes”) • Because of their success and impact on the music industry, the Broadway musical, and now film, Dreamgirls is based on their story.
• Influenced trios and quartet female R&B groups including En Vogue, TLC, and Destiny’s Child.
(King 2) The Supremes Influenced: The Jackson 5 (1964-1990) Stevie Wonder (1961-Present) • Their first four major label singles reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (Taraborrelli 75-81)
• Their cultural impact was immense. Not only did they have hit records, but they were captivating performers.
• The group served as a launching pad for Michael Jackson, who is now one of the world’s most renowned performers and is known as the “King of Pop.” (Taraborrelli 296) • Berry Gordy on the Jackson 5: “The cultural impact that these guys had on society was just incredible. The Jackson Five not only had hit records and were phenomenal performers, but they were a cultural revolution. For the first time, young black kids had their own heroes and their own image to idolize and emulate. The Jackson Five gave black kids in the ghetto a license to dream. And many of those same kids went on to realize their own dreams.”
(“The Jackson 5 Accept Their Induction”) •They have become an inspiration and template for generations of boy bands. • Signed with Motown when he was only 11 years old and is the Motown artist with the most Grammy Awards, 22.
(Ribowsky 69, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered) • Has more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and is an activist for many political causes.
• He fought for control of the creative freedom with his work. He was able to co-write and co-produce his own work. This encouraged other artists to demand more from their labels.
(Posner 153-154) • Wonder was a master at producing music of all genres, which allowed others to branch out and participate in collaborations with artists of different genres. (George 125-127) •As a blind man, he overcame the odds and became one of the greatest musicians of all time. He opened the door for other disabled people to pursue their dreams. (George 125-127) Motown and the
Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) Motown’s Collective Impact on the Civil Rights Movement • This wide distribution of Motown music allowed for positive images of black people to reach the general public, which improved race relations. (Smith 93) • Motown artists’ “appeal held a unique power in a country eager for cultural symbols that racial integration was not only possible but attractive and nonthreatening.” (Smith 135) •Black citizens of the U.S. considered the music of Motown to be their escape to artistic and financial freedom. As well, white listeners considered the music to also be a type of escape from the tensions of the time period. (“Motown's Impact on American Culture”) • Motown did not care what color you were and “resonated no matter where you were on the ideological spectrum.” (Ross)
• Some Motown artists felt as though their music should speak to and for the rising Civil Rights Movement. (Bindas) The Great March to Freedom (1963) • Motown recorded and released two of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches.
• The Great March to Freedom and The Great March to Washington
(Fleming 2) • Considered to be the most significant contribution Motown made to the civil rights struggle.
• “The recording represented the company’s first attempt to affiliate itself publicly with the national civil rights campaign.” (Smith 21) • The “I Have a Dream” speech was declared by King to be “the largest and greatest demonstration for freedom ever held in the United States.” (Branch 66) • These records made King’s speeches more accessible and spread the word about civil rights.
• People in foreign countries could now listen to King’s speeches and promote his ideas in their societies.
(Williams 205) • “Preserved a pivotal moment in the history of Detroit’s race relations.” (Smith 51) Black Forum Records • Formed in the late 1960’s
• Idea formed after the release of King’s albums.
• Spoken word recordings focusing on political and pro-civil rights speeches. (Fleming 2)
• Released eight albums. Poor People’s March • In 1968, Motown helped out with the Poor People’s Campaign March, which addressed the economic injustice and housing for the poor in the U.S. (Smith 216) • Motown’s artists performed a benefit concert in support of the campaign.
• The march brought renewed attention to these needs and issues and Motown’s involvement brought some much needed publicity.
(Smith 216) • “Motown’s assistance with the Poor People’s March stood out as the company’s most overtly political gesture since its recording of King’s speech.” (Smith 216) Motown and the United Kingdom The Beatles • The Beatles were greatly influenced by the artists of Motown.•They used vocal harmonies that Motown implemented in all of their early group songs.
(Maycock) • Another attribute of Motown that influenced The Beatles was the tambourine use. Motown songs had the tambourine upfront and loud, which The Beatles loved. They immediately incorporated this sound into their songs. (Maycock) • On their second album "With The Beatles", they recorded three Motown covers, including “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Please Mister Postman.” • Beatles’ fans thought that these were all original songs because Motown music was rarely played in Britain. This became a common occurrence in the UK because no one knew where these songs actually came from. Bands like the Rolling Stones also participated in covering Motown originals. (Maycock) • These Motown covers became best-sellers for British artists.
• The Beatles actively listened to Motown and took pointers, while the Motown artists did the same to The Beatles. They became influences for each other. Their interconnectedness helped each other become the cultural phenomenon they are today.
(Maycock) Mod Music Scene • A subculture in England that used Motown music as inspiration.
• Typical Mod songs fused earlier Motown R&B sounds with British pop sounds. These songs ended up being up-tempo and soulful. Tamla-Motown Records • Motown’s United Kingdom label
• Established in 1965, this label issued the releases of Motown songs.
• Sometimes this label released Motown songs that were not released in the U.S.
(George 121) The Beatles' cover of
"Money (That's What I Want)" Please watch the first 30 seconds to get a basic understanding of the song This song is an example of how British artists would cover Motown songs. Many of the bands would try to replicate the Motown Sound. Tamla-Motown Revue
of 1965 •The Supremes’ “Baby Love” was the first number one hit on the UK charts. It was known that once a song hit big in the UK, then it would spread globally. (George 121) •After this and some success in the U.S., Berry Gordy organized an Motown tour in the UK. The tour lasted three weeks and visited England, Scotland, and Wales. (Maycock) •This revue was to promote not only the artists, but the entire Motown label. It was called a “revue” by Gordy because he wanted to showcase Motown as a whole. (Maycock) •Artists included The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and Stevie Wonder. (George 120-124) • Gordy had big expectations for the revue, however, it ended up being unsuccessful. The audiences were half empty, but they did gather a good amount of press. (George 121-122)
• People had barely heard about Motown before the tour because there was really only one station that played their songs. Radio Luxembourg, an English station, played Motown songs, but only during late-night broadcasts. (Maycock) •Even though the shows had low attendance, the people who went noticed a huge difference between the British artists and the Motown musicians. This was the first time Britain saw choreographed, well-practiced, musical acts. Not only did their voices and songs draw more people to the shows, but the staged show captivated audiences. (Maycock) Dusty Springfield and
“Ready, Steady, Go!” (1965) •Dusty Springfield was a British pop singer known as “The White Queen of Soul” and was “the most important figure in facilitating the Motown Invasion.” (Randall) • She was a huge fan of American pop music, so she decided to bring the lesser known Motown singers to a broader audience.
• She performed many covers of Motown songs and wanted to share their compositions with her fans.
(Randall) • While the Motown stars were in the UK, Springfield set up a TV appearance for them on the program “Ready Steady Go!”
• This special edition of the show was titled “The Sound of Motown” and showcased The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha and The Vandellas, and The Miracles.
(Maycock) • The show gave Motown its first television exposure in the UK and was also the first time black performers appeared on an English program. The show initially had a lot of backlash before it aired, but once people watched the musicians, they opened their eyes to these African-American groups. (Maycock) • Performers on Springfield’s “Sound of Motown” have attributed their success in the UK and globally to Springfield. “Through Springfield’s advocacy, these Detroit artists were transported into the Europop spotlight.” (Randall) • This show opened the door for other black artists to appear and showcase their talents on television programs in the UK.
• Many people idolized Springfield. So seeing their idol introduce the singers she herself loved created more appreciation for the Motown artists. (Randall) • Motown and Springfield’s “musical alliance can be understood as demonstrating an idealized racial harmony during a time of horrific racial disharmony.” (Randall)
• The Motown Invasion was a great success and really paved the way for their music into the European communities. This was a turning point for Motown and Gordy. (Maycock) •“The Motown Invasion reflected and contributed to the evolving shifts in social and political power relationships that marked this period in the US and Britain. The lasting cultural impact of this transatlantic moment and its extraordinarily rich music are undoubtedly as important as the endlessly analyzed social phenomena associated with the Beatles and the British Invasion.” (Randall) After “The Sound of Motown”:• In 1966, the British spirit and economy picked up, which allowed for more Motown artists to have international tours.
• Other Motown artists had number one hits on the UK charts.
• Their music ruled Britain after Springfield’s show. The Motown Sound was universal.
(Maycock) Conclusion Conclusion “Motown has multiple legacies: to the history of popular music, to the history of black capitalism, and to the history of the civil rights movement and race relations.” (Smith 249)
It was Berry Gordy’s vision that pushed Motown onto
the global stage. His determination and innovative
thinking allowed the world to witness some of the
most legendary artists.
Not only did they make incredible music, but they aided in the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and abroad. Their professional looks allowed blacks to be seen in a positive light for the first time.
“Motown shaped the culture and did all the things that made the 1960s what they were” (Ross) The Motown Sound influenced British artists like The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, and the Rolling Stones. Also, the Motown Invasion allowed for other black musicians to be more widely accepted.
Motown music dominated the radio airwaves in other countries like Australia and Russia. Motown became infectious across the globe.
The music of Motown is timeless and is still played on radio stations today.
Motown, as a whole, has made one of the biggest impacts on American and British culture. Works Cited Works Cited Works Cited Bindas, Kenneth J. "Dancing in the Street." Michigan Historical Review Fall (2000): n. pag. Resource Library. Web. 12 June 2012. <http://findarticles.com>.
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