Sunday, May 19, 2024

Luncheon Presentation of Motown Museum Expansion Project

robi8n terry (i am motown)
Robin Terry in front of original Motown headquarters

*Beverly Hills, CA – We hear a lot of talk these days about legacy for our posterity, but none more than a gathering of Motown legends who made up the fabric of the phenomenal Motown music. Names like Mary Wilson (The Supremes); Claudette Robinson (The Miracles); Cornelius Grant (The Temptations’ bandleader); Eddie Holland (Holland/Dozier/Holland); and Brenda Holloway drew rounds of applause during an exclusive luncheon presentation at the wonderful Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Beverly Hills, California.

It was an invitation from the West Coast Motown Museum Committee to the official announcement and presentation of the plans for the Motown Museum Expansion project in the City of Detroit set to open in 2019.

To kick it off, former Motown V.P. Iris Gordy welcomed the attendees, and introduced her cousin Robin Terry who is chairwoman and CEO of the museum. Terry, who at the beckoning of her grandmother the late Esther Gordy Edwards, took over and has been at the helm of turning Hitsville U.S.A. – the original Motown Records headquarters – into a world-class museum that now boasts 60 thousand visitors per year.

Although she was courted by some of Detroit’s big-money property developers to fund and relocate the museum, Terry’s reluctance paid off when an offer to expand the museum at its original location came from Ford Motor Company and UAW-Ford with a multi-million-dollar commitment. Acres and acres of property surrounding the building have already been purchased for the project.

Artist’s rendering of expansion project

Before the presentation, Terry asked that all the invitees (about 75 people) give a brief statement about the role they had played at Motown. There were some very interesting stories, and many accolades for the visionary, Motown founder Berry Gordy who was not in attendance. Robinson and Berry’s brother Robert Gordy gave the most insight about Motown’s beginnings and the man behind it all. Some of Berry’s children – Terry (not to be confused with Robin Terry), Kerry and Denise – were on hand as well as Iris’ daughter Karla Gordy Bristol. They are all involved in the project to some degree.

Terry then played a sizzle reel produced by Suzanne DePasse (also in attendance) of some wonderful classic Motown footage before introducing her panel of experts – Patrick Gallagher, Bill Freelon, Rainy Hamilton and David Nathan – who all explained their roles in the project. Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, Director of Community Relations at UAW-Ford (also a newly-elected Detroit School Board member) told the story of how the partnership came about.

The expanded Motown Museum will include: Ford Motor Company Theater (a state-of-the-art performance venue); educational music tied to Ford’s student and community outreach initiatives; and the CARaoke Experience that incorporates music with Ford vehicles. Ford will be the official vehicle of the museum which brings the project full circle as it was while working on the assembly line at Ford that Gordy got the idea to adapt the concept to producing music.

Robin's presentation to attentive audience
Robin’s presentation to attentive audience

It was an exciting presentation! Other guests included journalist Ed Gordon; singer Scherrie Payne (former member of The Supremes); Betty Kelley (of Martha & The Vandellas); songwriter Janie Bradford; singer Mable John and singer Charlene (“I’ve Never Been To Me”).

On the profound impact Motown made on the world, Nathan said: “Motown is one of the best imports this country has produced.” Terry said, “This is about the artists and the music; this is about inspiring the next generation!”

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