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Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in Detroit in 1959, is one of the most distinctive, influential forces in popular music of the past half-century. Gordy and his small, self-sufficient team of songwriters, producers and musicians discovered and developed the careers of such extraordinary superstars as Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie, as well as the Temptations, the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas and many more. In Detroit, the company’s basement studio was the heartbeat of “the Motown Sound,” shaped by a cadre of jazz-schooled session players whose funk and soul went on to influence generations of musicians, then and now.  Songs written by the likes of Robinson, Wonder, Gaye and the triumvirate of Eddie and Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier are among the most-performed copyrights in history, including “My Girl,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “The Tracks Of My Tears” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” These hits helped to integrate popular music and the music business during the 1960s, as Motown’s artists crossed from rhythm & blues to pop, and redefined industry parameters. For a period during the 1970s, it was the largest black-owned business in America. Motown moved in 1972 from Detroit to Los Angeles, where it shaped a new wave of stars with global popularity, including the Commodores, Thelma Houston, Rick James, Teena Marie, DeBarge and Boyz II Men. Berry Gordy’s legacy and the remarkable achievements of his artists are chronicled in a new Broadway hit, “Motown: The Musical.”