The city of Detroit in the state of Michigan became the USA’s automobile capital, the Motor City. Black workers from the southern states were amongst those attracted by the promise of jobs in the city’s automobile factories. During the 40’s and 50’s many settled on the city’s East side and brought with them their love of the music that had developed in the South. Hastings Street was the centre of this musical evolution where gospel, blues and jazz began a new fusion that gave birth to the Motown Sound.
Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. on January 12th 1959 and was originally called Tamla Records. The first recording act to be signed to the label was a group called The Miracles, led by singer, songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson who would later become the vice president of the Motown Corporation, after Berry Gordy had changed the company name and purchased several smaller labels around the city of Detroit. During the early years of the company several members of the Gordy family were involved in the day to day operations, including his sister Gwen and his late father Berry Gordy Sr. After establishing the company Berry Gordy Jr. purchased a property at 2648 West Grand Boulevard that would eventually become known as Motown’s Hitsville USA. The house contained the studios and administrative offices of the label and a large recording studio was built in the basement to facilitate the company’s activities. Motown had a golden era from 1959 to 1969. The creative output of the first ten years was extraordinary, with hit after hit from a group of artists who have become household names around the world.