Berry Gordy gets Pioneer Award from Songwriters Hall of Fame

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 12 March 2013
Gordy Berry

Gordy Berry

Motown founder Berry Gordy will be given a Pioneer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame to celebrate his contribution to music thanks to his legendary record label

Berry Gordy is receiving a Pioneer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The Motown founder - who is responsible for discovering icons acts such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Jackson 5 and developing the sound of soul music - will be rewarded for his groundbreaking influence on the music industry and promoting African-American artists across the globe.

Jimmy Webb, chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, announced: "Berry Gordy is an innovator and a visionary. Yes, he created a label but more than that, he created a genre. Think about it, he pioneered a marketplace for African-American artistry and then he invited the world in to enjoy it.

"Berry was way ahead of his time; his young and immaculately groomed and dressed artists were among the first to receive media training. Berry Gordy and the Motown sound are essential to the American music story."

Berry - who set up Tamla Records in Detroit in 1959, which later became Motown Records - will be the second ever recipient of the award, following in the footsteps of folk singer Woody Guthrie.

He will be presented with the honour at an induction dinner on June 13 in New York.

Berry, 83, is no stranger to landmark prizes, after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, given the President's Merit Award from the Grammys in 2008 and celebrated with a 'Salute to Motown' evening at the White House in 2011.

R&B crooner Ne-Yo took over as Senior Vice-President of the legendary record label in January 2012 and praised Berry for always listening to his gut instincts and pushing musical boundaries.

He recalled: "Berry told me about meetings the label used to hold. There was one, from 1964, where they were debating the Temptations song 'My Girl'. Five of the six people in the room said it wouldn't be a hit, but Berry put it out.

"It went to Number One and became a soul classic. He did that to show me I shouldn't let other people's opinions overpower my own."

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