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January 12

Hitsville USA, The birthplace of Motown

Motown Records owns and distributes music in numerous genres, but is most famous for its releases of rhythm and blues, soul, hip hop, and pop music.

Photo by Amy Echt

1959: The Sound of Young America
Motown Records is founded in Detroit, Michigan
Pioneer record label Motown Records played a major role in the racial integration of popular music. Founded on this day in 1959 by Berry Gordy, it was the first successful record label owned by an African American to primarily feature African American artists.

Among Motown's early artists were Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, and The Jackson Five. The label specialized in "The Motown Sound," or pop music characterized by the use of tambourine back beats, prominent and melodic bass guitar chords and structures, and a call and response singing style originated in gospel music.
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