December 10, 2015 |
MARIE FLORASTINE KING really wasn't Diana Ross' twin sister, separated at birth. But she got a kick out of imagining such a relationship, because she was a big fan of the Motown singer and her group, the Supremes. "You could not convince her that she and Diana Ross were not twins separated at birth," her family wrote in a tribute. "At family get-togethers, Marie and middle sister, Mary, good good-naturedly contested for the role of Miss Ross. " Marie, who worked as a Bell Telephone operator and for banks in the city, a busy Baptist churchwoman whose goal was to pass on her faith to the youth, and a devoted family matriarch, died Dec. 2 of cancer.
August 19, 2015 |
ON HIS 16TH BIRTHDAY, Stevie Wonder came to Philly, met a girl and played Seven Minutes in Heaven for the first time. "I'd never been there before, naw . . . It was a Friday going on Saturday. I thought I could see," he joked. The crowd erupted with laughter. Then he launched into "Hey Love . . . may I have a word with you . . . " As most of Philadelphia now knows, the Motown multi-instrumentalist performed a free, outdoor show for thousands of fans at Dilworth Park yesterday afternoon.
February 13, 2015
AMONG THOSE who took in the touring production of "Motown The Musical" when it played the Academy of Music last month was Kenny Gamble , who, along with Leon Huff and Thom Bell , made the Philadelphia International Records label a music powerhouse in the 1970s. So, it was pretty much a no-brainer to ask Gamble about a "Motown"-style musical based on PIR's prodigious catalog of soul and R&B hits, universally tagged "The Sound of Philadelphia. " We are happy to report that Gamble answered in the affirmative.
January 27, 2015 |
Philadelphia DJ legend Jerry Blavat has booked and hosted Kimmel Center shows before, dedicated to the glories of rock, roll, soul, and doo-wop's past. He's featured lady singers, vocal groups and such, leaving no stone unturned in the happy excavation and continued curation of the "oldies" genre. One thing though, that was noticeably dynamic about Saturday's concert at the Kimmel - dedicated to early rock-and-roll and R&B vocalists whom the Geator believed paved the way for Motown - was that his selection of singers, each and every one, was unparalleled in execution.
January 10, 2015 |
Motown the Musical packs its score with some of the greatest hitmakers in music history: the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Temptations, and the Commodores. As a story, though, it's missing only a cross for Motown records founder Berry Gordy to hang on. Gordy based the musical on his 1994 autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown . There's plenty of music and magic in the production now on tour at the Academy of Music; in addition to the bands or artists listed above, all the Motown records stars from the 1960s to 1980s get their 15 seconds of stage time in this 21/2-hour show (some, such as Teena Marie and Rick James, merely bookend a short-shrift collection of Motown's late-period hits)
January 4, 2015 |
When Berry Gordy talks about the legendary record company he started in Detroit back in 1959 (originally Tamla Records, it became the Motown Record Corp. in 1960), he describes an entity transcending music. "My Motown is like a tree," he says with relish. "We go out on branches in every different direction. " The sounds and sights of Smokey Robinson's Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the young Michael Jackson, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Diana Ross (Gordy's onetime, longtime paramour)
January 2, 2015
SO, THERE you are, putting together what would ultimately become the Tony-glomming smash "Motown the Musical," the national tour of which on Tuesday opens a 13-day run at the Academy of Music. How in the world do you decide which songs from the label's impossibly rich and important catalogue to use, and which don't make the cut? "I always say, 'Motown the Musical' should be a 10-hour miniseries, but we have to do it in 2 1/2 hours," offered producer Kevin McCollum , the musical-theater powerhouse ("Avenue Q," "Rent," "In the Heights")
November 12, 2014 |
S TEVIE WONDER - just announced as a 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient - makes a rare appearance this Sunday, at the Wells Fargo Center. Better still, he'll devote the gig to recreating his 38-years-young "Songs in the Key of Life" mega-album. Helping him out: expect singer India.Arie, a large string section and at least 20 other musicians. How great is all this? Let's count the ways. After seizing artistic control of his career from Motown in the early 1970s, the former "Little Stevie" Wonder set out to prove his mettle.
August 8, 2014 |
HUMAN NATURE is a vocal quartet consisting of four white young men from suburban Sydney, Australia, whose stock-in-trade is the Motown Records canon of the 1960s and '70s. As such, it's easy to dismiss the unit, which tonight begins a two-weekend run at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. After all, how could these guys do justice to music made by African-Americans before, in some cases, they were even born? If you agree with those sentiments, we suggest you take it up with Smokey Robinson - yes, that Smokey Robinson, the one who wrote and sang some of the most enduring songs in pop-music history.
June 20, 2014
THE IDEA of "Broadway on the Boardwalk" has been a staple of the Atlantic City casino era. For decades, gaming halls have staged both Broadway-themed revues and actual musicals, from full-blown renditions to "tab shows" truncated to get gamblers back to the casinos within 90 minutes. But the Broadway-to-Boardwalk blueprint will be taken to unprecedented levels next month as the Atlantic City Alliance - the town's casino-funded marketing agency - stages a series of free Monday night concerts on the Great Wood Way. What makes the program dubbed (what else?