Motown's Berry Gordy wins Marian Anderson Award

Berry Gordy, who produced stars like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye.
Berry Gordy, who produced stars like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye. (AP)
Posted: June 05, 2013

Berry Gordy, the 83-year-old founder of Motown Records, the Detroit label that became a hit-making factory and produced such stars as Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and Michael Jackson, is the recipient of the 2013 Marian Anderson Award, Mayor Nutter announced Monday.

The award, given to "artists and individuals whose body of work has improved the world beyond the power to entertain," is named for the late African American contralto and South Philadelphia High graduate who was celebrated as a singer of both classical music and spirituals in her lifetime. A trailblazer in breaking down racial barriers, she was, Nutter said, "an exemplar of Philadelphia values" and "a great Philadelphia woman." She died in 1993.

Previous winners include James Earl Jones, Mia Farrow, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and Richard Gere. The award is given each year to recognize "the powerful impact artists can have on society," award chair Pamela Browner White said at a news conference at the Sofitel Hotel in Center City.

"Whoever you are and wherever you are, people may look different than you, they may have walked a different path," White said, explaining the selection of the songwriter, producer, and visionary businessman behind Hitsville U.S.A. who founded Motown in 1959. "But they all know Motown. We're honoring Berry Gordy in the genre of civil rights and the area of bringing us all together."

"I'm not on the selection committee," the mayor said - praising Gordy as "a critically acclaimed artist who helped mold and unite America" - "but I am very excited about this year's honoree. I did pretty much grow up on Motown. I always enjoy hearing the music, especially when it's sampled in a new song, and a young person wonders how an old guy like me could know the lyrics. And I say, 'Because that song is 40 years old.' "

Gordy will be honored at a gala Nov. 19 at the Kimmel Center. Details of the evening's entertainment will be announced this summer.


Contact Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or ddeluca@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @delucadan. Read his

blog, "In the Mix," at www.inquirer.com/inthemix.

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