Thursday, November 8, 2012

The HistoryMakers Presents An Evening with Berry Gordy

CHICAGO, IL - The HistoryMakers, a national non-profit that develops, preserves, and provides online access to an archival collection of African American videotaped oral histories, is presenting An Evening with Berry Gordy on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at The Art Institute of Chicago. The celebrity interview program, “The HistoryMakers, An Evening With…” is an annual fundraiser for the organization.

The program will consist of a one-on-one interview with Gordy conducted by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill and taped live for airing on PBS-TV.   Ifill’s interview will lead the audience through Gordy’s celebrated life as an entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, and movie director and producer who has left an indelible influence on music and films both nationally and internationally.  Popular recording artist Kem and R&B singer Valerie Simpson will perform a tribute. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy -- known to the music world as Redfoo -- one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, will be in attendance.

Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959 and grew the company into the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the United States.  He is also credited with having created a new sound that changed popular music – the Motown Sound.   While working on an assembly line at Ford Motor Company, Gordy began writing and selling songs that were recorded by several local artists.   After borrowing $800 from his father, he formed his own company – Motown Records – that was headquartered in a house on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard.   In 1960, Motown released the song “Shop Around” written by Gordy’s longtime friend Smokey Robinson and recorded by The Miracles with Robinson on lead vocals. The song sold more than a million copies and helped to launch the most influential era in the history of popular music.   Motown quickly turned out successive hits by signing and grooming recording artists such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, and Mary Wells.

Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, serves as executive producer.  Suzanne de Passe, former president of Motown Productions, and Charles Randolph-Wright, director of the upcoming Broadway production of Motown: the Musical, are serving as co-producers.   Ray Chew, music director for American Idol, serves as the show’s music producer.   Music industry powerhouses Universal Music Group, Sony Music, David Geffen, Clarence Avant, and Jerry Moss are major underwriters for the evening.

Honorary co-chairs for An Evening with Berry Gordy include: Christie Hefner, Clarence Avant, Walter & Shirley Massey, and Richard Parsons.  The title sponsor is Comcast NBC Universal. Other major sponsors include Universal Music Group which owns Motown, Sony Music which owns the Motown publishing rights, Discover, Abbott Laboratories, Chicago Tribune, and The Ritz Carlton Chicago.

For more information on the event and The HistoryMakers, please visit the website at  

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